Not foods

I can’t stand truffles. I know I should like them – they are fancy, expensive, sought-after, and so on. But they smell horrible. They must be the kind of thing one has to acquire a taste for, like strange old cheeses, yogurt, aged meats, strong drinks, cilantro, dill and other unusual flavors. It took me ages to learn to like olives, and longer still to be able to eat sushi (which I still find somewhat revolting, but I like the associated things like pickled ginger, miso soup, and edamame, which helps).

Our only favorite pizza place has stopped delivering. I’m rather heart-broken. It was one of a very few places I really liked. I went out to the dentist today and half the shops I passed were emptied and closed, rent signs hung on their doors. It’s quite sad to see the empty streets and galleries. I suspect it will take years to recover, assuming the next months don’t bring more disasters.

Who cut the cheese?

An ash-covered Tropeiro cheese from Minas Gerais, after suffering an unhappy week in shipping.

A cheese arrived by mail yesterday. It had spent a week in transit due to virus-related transportation delays. It was gray and moldy and wrinkled, and the strong cheesy smell of it easily escaped the thick layers of plastic wrap and cardboard which secured it, growing stronger as I cut them away.

Following cheesecare instructions I gently scraped away the white patches of mold with a bread knife. Then, not following cheesecare instructions, but personal experience, I put it on a plate in the fridge with a ventilated cover over it. Last time we had one of these cheeses we kept it in the cheese cage, but the temperatures here are quite warm and it sweated oil from the cut side. The texture was less than appealing with it being warm and oily like that. So this one will stay chilled.

I remembered a childhood expression while cutting this cheese. “Who cut the cheese??” was giggled on the schoolbus if someone farted, or when we passed a farm and a waft of manure-scented air came in. But I remember clearly that until high school I only ate Kraft American Cheese, the kind that came in a brick in a cardboard box. It had no smell. I don’t remember ever encountering a cheese with a cheesy smell in childhood. So the reference in the reaction to stinkiness was rote, learned from some generation who had known farmhouse cheese, perhaps?

When our high school French teacher decided to have a French Culture Day in class, she brought in brie cheese, a baguette, and perhaps some other things I have forgotten. She played a famous song on a tape recorder and sang along with it, embarrassing us. She was actually French and I think we all found her a bit intriguing and startling, though she was well-liked. Anyway, I remember everyone in class trying the cheese and most being rather horrified by the strange bitter taste, fungus-covered exterior, and rank smell. After high school I think I moved up to eating cheddar, but not much else. It took me decades more to attempt gorgonzola and other strong or moldy cheeses.