Monday, March 12, 2007

Stinky Cheese

Today I had little time for lunch so I went to a deli across the street from my work (yes, I have a day job) that sells cheap sandwiches. I also had very little cash on me, so it served me well in my limited time, limited money state. As I was waiting for them to take the hot pastrami out of the microwave for my pastrami and swiss cheese sandwich on wheat, another customer ordered white bread with mayonaise and cheese. When asked which type of cheese she would like, she chose American. Who in the world orders a white bread sandwich with mayo and cheese? I thought she must be someone who has no spirit of adventure and no regard for the wonderful flavors of real food. I thought she probably has never gone to France and eaten stinky cheese...

On our recent trip to Chamonix in February, we ate plenty of stinky cheese and filled our condo's refrigerator with the local varieties. It was so odorous that some of our crew complained of how bad the refrigerator smelled to the point that we decided to put it outside on the patio table. To me, sure it smelled stinky, but it also smelled delicious, savory, even mouth-watering.

The reaction of my non-stinky-cheese eating friend reminded me of my youth when I was taught to grimace at the smells of my dad's German Brick. We called it Dad's stinky cheese. In fact, my mom put it on a separate plate from the rest of the cheese, so it wouldn't "contaminate" the others. I probably wouldn't have liked it as a kid-back then, Cheddar was too strong for me. I ate lots of Colby.

For Christmas this year, my parents sent a big box of Wisconsin cheese. They asked us if we wanted anything in particular, and we mentioned Limburger. The Wisconsin Dairy State Cheese Company in Rudolph, Wisconsin sells some top notch stuff. They sent us two blocks of it and one of German Brick. On first glance, I thought, that was the stuff I don't like...that's Dad's stinky cheese after all. I wondered why they'd send me this, was it a mistake, was Dad missing his cheese? My grown up rationalization overtook those childish thoughts and I realized that they probably figured if we eat Limburger, which can smell pretty ripe, we'd probably like German Brick too. And so we dug into it. Wouldn't you know it, we liked it better than the Limburger! It was an excellent cheese- if only I'd tried it earlier.