A Story About Cheese

One thing that husband and I always knew was that we wanted to travel.  We wanted to see the places we’d learned about in school and explore the places we hadn’t.

In 1990 we made our first trip to Scotland and England. In 1992 we went again. These first two trips were sort of shake-down journeys for us…learning the ropes of international travel. Each time, we went with a small group from Little Rock.

Yes…we went with a group. It was a good introduction to travel and we have fond memories from those excursions.

On our second trip to England, in 1992, I was just learning about food. You have to know that even though this was only 17 years ago, things like fresh herbs, salmon and exotic cheese were rare in Arkansas–despite being the home of the newly elected president.

So off we went to England. One thing I quickly learned whilst lunching in British pubs was to order the Ploughman’s Lunch–typically this consists of bread, good English cheese, maybe a pate and some pickle. No baked beans poured cold from the can…no sausage roll.

One night in London, most of our group went to an upscale restaurant named after a famous degenerate, Thomas de Quincey. I don’t remember that much about the main courses, but I do remember the cheese.

Allow me to digress here momentarily…growing up, cheese was not something I loved. Cheese in Franklin in the 60’s mainly consisted on Kraft Singles. But as I got older, I discovered things like Roquefort Dressing and a whole cheesey world opened up.

When the waiter came by to take our dessert orders, I opted for the cheese trolley. He wheeled it over and lifted the cover. Immediately, a foul smelling stench surrounded our table. Think amonia mixed with week-old garbage that’s been left in the July sun. The rest of our table recoiled. Except for me. Hmmm…I said, perusing my options. I queried the waitier and he was only too happy to answer any questions. (Never underestimate the power of a Southern accent.) I finally choose three…I wish I could remember what they were, but I can’t.

A couple of snooty older women at the table took me to task for making them smell the unpleasant cheese. I had had enough of their carping.

“Listen,” I said. “I’m in England and I’m going to eat the cheese. Y’all can just go back to Little Rock and have your Velveeta.”

They were a little stunned. But I looked across the table and saw our tour guide, a bon vivant if there ever was one.

“Oh bravo Cindy…bravo.”

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5 Comments

Filed under Europe

5 responses to “A Story About Cheese

  1. Niece Lash

    You sure do love those stinky cheeses. I remember a certaing foul aroma coming from our little room in Paris from some cheese you stashed away…Pee Yew! I still try to remember a cheese that you suggested for me that day to eat that was a harder and saltier cheese. Still can’t get its’ yumminess off my mind!

  2. At least you didn’t toss the cheese out the 4th floor hotel window like a certain cousin of yours did. Also, I wonder if the cheese you tried was a tomme…hmmm, wish I could remember. We’ll have to take a field trip to the cheese department t Whole Foods.

  3. You will like “Torta de Casar” if you ever get a chance to try it. Make sure it feels soft – the inside should be runny, and you scoop it out and eat it on good bread. It’s a sheep’s cheese with nothing added. The first time some friends offered me some at their table, and opened the tupperware box in which it was caged, I could smell eau de dead sheep left rotting three weeks in a stream in the sun. Don’t be put off – it tastes divine.

  4. When I first lived here, it was hard to find. Now it’s in most supermarkets here. As with everything and everywhere, potential markets expand and the world gets smaller – but as far as cheese goes, that’s not always a bad thing! Which is to say, I don’t know if it’s exported yet, but if it isn’t, I’m sure it will be soon. It’s generally recognised by cheese buffs over here as the best cheee Spain produces, although producers of certain other cheeses would probably contest that.

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