Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Notes from a Fromager

My wife, Edan, works in a cheese store. No, I did not force her to work there, it was her idea. She keeps me stocked with cheeses, good olive oil, salami, and other delicious specialty goods. This is the long way of saying she knows a lot more about cheese than I do. She writes:

I’ve only been working in the cheese business for about two months, but already I’ve come across a few patrons who claim they don’t like cheese. Just the other day in fact, a family of four: father, mother, and their grown daughter and son, ventured into the shop to peruse our many offerings. All except the mother were adventurous cheese eaters—anything these three sampled was swallowed with half-closed eyes and an orgiastic groan. The mother, however, stood back from this feasting, a bit timid. She told me she didn’t like most cheeses because of their texture—and she certainly didn’t like pungent flavors, either. The challenge of finding something to her liking reminded me of my days as a bookseller, when teary-eyed mothers would beg me to recommend something enjoyable and appropriate for their sullen teenagers who preferred text messaging to all else—a difficult, but not impossible, task.

This particular cheese patron said she did like Fontina D’Aosta, a semi-firm Italian cheese made from raw cow’s milk (meaning it’s not pasteurized) and aged for four months. Fontina D’Aosta, by the way, is name-controlled, and should not be confused with the plain old, rubbery “Fontina” cheese you often see in the supermarket. Once I had this information, it was easy to find others she enjoyed. First, Chaubier, a lovely cheese from France, made from pasteurized goat and cow’s milk. This cheese, covered in an orange rind, is very mild without being boring, and its consistency rivals the chicest string cheese. Second, Istara, a sheep’s milk cheese from the French Pyrenees. Istara is firmer than Chaubier, but in my opinion its flavors are better: nutty and sharper, without being the slightest bit offensive. Needless to say, this so called cheese hater took big chunks of both of these cheeses home with her, her palette expanding by the minute.

1 comment:

Max said...

Edan works in a cheese shop? That might be my dream job. Perhaps she should start her own cheese-themed offshoot of Apron, Napkin.