(Part 1 because one can only assume that there will be further cheese posts as this is a blog about France)
This is how it goes:
I’m having a nice, quiet evening at home, alone. I have a glass of red wine and I’ve just finished a delightful and satisfying meal. I’m not really hungry anymore; perhaps I just need a snack to top myself off. I could just have a piece of chocolate…I could. Instead, I reach for the baguette and rip off a hearty chunk.
Lovingly, I design the plate; taking a slice of this and a wedge of that. The smell that emanates is both menacing and enticing. I look, expectantly, at the fat-laden ooze making its way, lethargically, across the plate. Do I really need to have a cheese course when I am eating at home alone in front of the television? No, but it is just so damn good.
Depending on what source you reference, the French have anywhere from 50-1000 different types of cheeses. The official cheeses from the AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) run somewhere between 45-55. When France decided to join the EU, one of the major concerns of the French people was that their cheese would suffer (this concern remains today). So is it any wonder that I’ve fallen prey to the seduction of French cheese? Le fromage is a religion in France and these are a devout people.
I had thought that I knew cheese; I wasn’t a processed-cheese-eating, kraft-single American. I went to the markets and Whole Foods and bought good, interesting cheeses. I have now come to understand that I knew nothing. It started back in Australia, when, on our second date, my boyfriend (from now on to be known as MB: ‘Monsieur Boyfriend’) offered me some of his cheese that had been shipped to him from France, the stench was over-whelming and wildly romantic. We locked eyes and he waited with anticipation as I took my first bite. The flavor was transcedental; something between passion and hatred. The satiny, smooth, milky richness sat in my mouth for but a moment before transforming itself and pinching the sides of my tongue with tangy, bitterness. My eyes rolled into the back of my head and when I came-to, I again found the gaze of MB; there was a new understanding between us, I had been brought into the fold.
So, I suppose now there is no going back; I have committed myself fully in my devotion to le fromage. It is a relationship full of suprises and unexpected sensations but never, ever boring; and I suspect I will be a dedicated follower for life.