Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cheese is NOT scary

So this post is based on interaction I had with a customer the other day. We were tasting some cheeses and I hadn't found "the one" yet. I'd sampled out three or four and the customer apologized for being so picky and said he would just take some of the last sample. I explained to him that I expected him to be picky and not to apologize for it. Not every cheese is for every person. Then I asked him if he liked the last cheese we'd tasted. His face said "no" even as he nodded his head yes.

I did not sell him that cheese and I told him that unless he really liked it I wouldn't sell it to him. We tried a few more cheeses until he found what he was looking for. He left with a few cheeses that he really really loved.

The next time you come into your cheese shop I want you to be honest. You don't like every cheese. You know how I know this? Because I work with cheese and I don't like every cheese. I think that sometimes people say they like everything because they're afraid of saying the wrong thing. Cheese has this stigma of being a product for the food snob. NOT TRUE!

What is cheese? Milk that we purposely and carefully (with incredibly skilled hands) manipulate, heat, press and age into a yummy treat. Cheese ultimately, at the heart of it is often a whey tee hee hee of using and preserving excess milk. Just as canning is a way of preserving fruits and veggies. Some cheesemakers got into the business specifically because they had too much milk and didn't want to waste the product.

When you go into your cheese shop, think about the cheeses you've liked in the past. Were they creamy like a Brie, or creamy like Marieke Gouda? Sharp like an aged Cheddar, or sharp like Fiore Sardo? Do you like blue? Creamy blues, salty blues, crumbly blues? Don't be shy. Tell your cheesewench or cheeselad what you like and while you're at it be sure to tell them what you don't like. I certainly don't want to offer you a taste of the Langres that we're sampling out only to find out you really don't like washed rind cheeses.

I'm rambling. My point is this: don't be afraid to say what you want. Use colorful language. Montbriac to me tastes like Camembert and St. Agur got together and had a love child. And yes, I often say that to customers. I compare a five year Gouda to "adult pop rocks". There are no wrong answers. Seriously. Adjectives are great. They help us know what kind of cheese you like (I mean we do have a lot in the case we can't sample all of them-today.)


I don't care if you're in a rush for work, or you feel pressured by other people in your party, or staff, or the full moon. You are spending money on a product. Make sure its something you like/love/adore/want to have babies with.

Most importantly, have fun! Cheese is fun! Buying cheese is fun! Tasting cheese is fun! Finding a new favorite cheese is fun! Rediscovering an old friend is fun! Don't be afraid of the cheese. Unless it's Casa Marzu* in which case, be afraid. Be very afraid.

*Please feel free to google this cheese if you want to. I have. At the risk of offending anyone, I just don't know that I'm this adventurous. I don't want to spoil it for you, but feel that I'd be neglecting my wenchy duties if I didn't warn you One word: maggots.


Lo said...

Then again, I never say never. Especially about cheese :)

Cheesewench said...

Lo, I appreciate your crazy, I mean courage. I don't know that I'm brave enough for this.

If there is anyone out there who has tried this cheese, let me know. I'd love to hear your story and know how much it wiggled going down.

Ursula said...

Maggot cheese. Just...just...WRONG. So, so WRONG.

Simone (junglefrog) said...

O jeezz... I just googled that particular cheese... and that is just... unbelievable! I also read a piece that they used a similar cheese on fearfactor once (or at least it was cheese with maggots, but I don't know if it was the real one...)
Scary stuff though!

Cheesewench said...

They jump people. The maggots can jump.

Lo said...

OK, the jumping. A bit much. Even for me :) Bravery is going down the pooper.