Not sure what to make of these guys but I like them
Offended yet? Americans in particular seem offended by full frontal nudity. Wardrobe malfunctions during Super Bowl half time shows and a fleeting glimpse of a blurred nipple is enough to send some of us into an irreversible state of shock. Hide the children lest they be forever scarred by nightmares of a nearly fully exposed areola! The entire adult populations of West Virginia and Mississippi driven to therapy. Mass moronity at its pinnacle – or its nadir.
But I’m not offended by a surprise nipple or even a free range breast. Even my holy roller Mormon legal education couldn’t put the fear of broadcast nudity into me. I’m offended by cheese. Hate it. Completely. All forms. It’s vile and rancid. Nothing redeeming about it. Fetid, horrific, and toxic. That’s right. Deadly. It’s a killer. Ask any cardiologist or 7 year old with access to a TV and the attention span to pay attention to commercials.
Too harsh? Nah. OK, maybe not quite accurate. I’m not offended by cheese, I’m offended that most everyone else seems to expect – practically demand – that I like it. Pretty simple really, when milk goes bad (which it never does in a house with 3 young children) you throw it out. That’s especially true when its bad enough to congeal into a solid or semi-solid mass. You don’t rename it “cheese” and put it in your mouth. If not for cheese I could be a proper Giada DeLaurentis stalker.
Giada photo courtesy of the Food Network
I hate cheese almost as much as I hate mayonnaise (amazed myself for even spelling it without passing out). Mayonnaise people are completely insane. Want me to bolt from a room? Put a tuna salad sub in plain sight. Egg salad is even worse. I’ll probably throw up in my mouth by the time I finish this sentence.
But I digress. Cheese is the villain here. Its bad enough when the stuff is in plain sight but when you people start hiding it in otherwise safe havens you’ve crossed the line. I still have PTSD-like flashbacks of an early October 1980 lunch in the Sadler Hall Dining Hall at Syracuse when I bit into a hot dog only to come face to face with a beast so hideous as to forever shatter my sense of dining calm. A cheese dog!? Innocence lost.
I get it. Many of my craft beer friends swear by beer & cheese pairings. One of my favorite craft beer bars in Philly, Tria, is based upon a theme of offering the best of the three fermantables: beer, wine & cheese. Tria is a great bar. Small but world class craft beer offerings and an excellent wine list but I have to ignore that third prong. Full disclosure: not all cheese is bad. This one used to be pretty good:
Now THIS is foodie quality stuff
Yes, I really used to eat those. Fresh from the vending machine they were hard to beat. If I were to go completely mad and forsake my hatred for cheese, this is where I’d go:
I might even get a frequent shoppers club card from that joint.
On occasion I consort with the enemy. I call some of them friends. Frail and flawed as they are. One in particular, G-LO of the It’s Just The Booze Dancing blog fancies himself a foodie and good cook (both true). All around good guy but for his affection for cheese in all of its heinous forms. I thought it only fair to ask him a few questions. Know thine enemy (or something like that). Anyway, here’s my brief interview with a friend and a friend of the fromage. Draw your own conclusions but know that if you side with him I’m coming for you down the road……
The G-LO Interview:
1. Explain yourself
Talk about an open ended question. For those that don’t know me, my name is G-LO, one of the writers for the “It’s just the booze dancing…” blog
. Food and drink are what make me happy. The Alemonger, a man that lives in fear of the cheese, asked me to explain how I can eat the stuff. Although I live in fear of his questions (mostly because my Sicilian upbringing causes me to naturally fear anyone that has ever worked in any form of law enforcement. Fear of getting caught? You betcha.), he asked kinda nicely, so I agreed to the interview.
2. When were you turned onto turned milk?
Again, I’m Sicilian. We go from drinking milk to eating cheese at a very young age. Ricotta, mozzarella, mascarpone, fontina, and pecorino. These are our gateways.
3. How do you deal with the stench?
Stench? We cheese aficionados prefer to call them aromas. When the cheese is fresh and well crafted, the aromas are positively mouth watering. What he meant to say: “now that you mention it…”
4. Favorite Cheese & craft beer pairing.
Much like my taste in Craft Beer (or pretty much anything else), I enjoy an incredibly wide variety of cheeses. While I have typically paired a bold red wine with most cheeses, I have really started to enjoy great Craft Beer alongside a well constructed cheese plate (Thank you Tria!). Since I really like big cheeses like Gorgonzola, Roquefort, or Stilton, they need to be enjoyed with a Craft Beer that can stand up to their bold flavors. A Saison Dupont is perfect for this, but I could also see something like a Rodenbach Grand Cru, or perhaps even a really good IPA like Ballast Point Sculpin or Green Flash Palate Wrecker.
5. If you home churned, what would you make and what would you name it?
Several years ago, Mrs. G-LO and I spent an anniversary weekend in DC. We did the usual touristy stuff, i.e. walked many miles and went to many museums (this was before my Craft Beer fascination, so I was not aware of places like Church Key). One particular exhibit that completely enthralled me was Julia Child’s Kitchen which is located in the American History Museum. One of the walls in this exhibit featured Julia Child’s French Bread recipe. What I found most fascinating is what she said about the French and their bread baking habits. Essentially, most French people do NOT bake their own bread. Every town or neighborhood has a local bakery, and that’s where most French people get their bread. Making great bread is inexpensive, but it’s also very time consuming, so why do it on your own when you have access to a professional baker that turns out a consistently great product at an affordable price everyday? With all that in mind, I doubt very much that I would ever make my own cheese. Some things are best left to the professionals. Same goes for Craft Beer. Much respect for those that homebrew, but with so many great local beers, why would I ever want to go through the hassle of brewing my own?
Now if you put a gun to my head and forced me to make a decision, I would go with a fresh mozzarella or ricotta because you can pretty much make it and eat it the same day. As for the name, they already have names.
What that answer reveals: G-LO has a fetish for Julia Child (not peeking through his bedroom window). The French are lazy and toss cows at proper Englishmen. He won’t allow a pet into his house because he won’t be able to name it.
Makes everything better!
7. What is wrong with you people?
There is nothing wrong with us people. Cheese is an essential and delicious part of life. Great cheese has the ability to take something good and make it even better. A perfect;y cooked, medium rare, USDA Prime Porterhouse topped with melted Gorgonzola? Yes please! Wash that down with a glass of Russian River Consecration? Even better!
You need to get past your preconceived notions and free your mind. Take the red pill Neo!
What should I have asked?
9. Let’s say I completely lost my mind and decided to finally try some cheese (never gonna happen). How would you ease me into it? (for the record, I’d have never asked that)
Would you give a person that hates beer an Imperial IPA and expect them to enjoy it? Would you pour a Laphroaig 10 for a non-whisky drinker and expect them to enjoy it? In both instances, the answer is no. You need to ease someone into it. Tantalize their palate. Pique their interest. What you need to do is find a gateway cheese. I would start very basic. A fine English Cheddar served with some sliced apple, dried fruit, perhaps a bit of honey. Maybe some young Pecorino on a slice of bread, topped with some roasted red pepper. Even better, have a hamburger with a slice of well aged swiss cheese! Ya gotta take it slowwwwwww….
That’s it. Now pass the cheese free pretzel dog.