Cheese fixes this
An homage to fromage
No one knows for sure where cheese came from. Old folklore suggests it was an accident, the result of storing milk in containers made from animal stomachs, which contained enzymes that caused the milk to coagulate and separate into curds and whey. This isn’t the most appetizing history lesson, but alas. The pioneers had to walk so Kraft could run.
June is National Dairy Month, which began in 1937 to promote drinking milk during a grocery and dairy surplus, a notion that seems comical given recent supply chain and inflation woes. Now, it’s an annual tradition that celebrates hard-working farmers and the health benefits of dairy’s nine essential nutrients. So they say.
If you ask me, the true purpose of National Dairy Month in These Times should be to celebrate the one last thing we may have in common: our love of cheese. We are in a state of being where even the truest facts are questioned; facts such as, “They say I am lactose intolerant, but it’s pasteurized, so I should be fine, right?” People are putting their digestive tracts on the line. Sure, we all believe what we want to and are often willing to go down with the ship. But there are universal truths behind our differences. One such truth is cheese. Just ask my daughters what solves every epic battle over the living room television. You already know the answer.
So in the spirit of lifting spirits, allow me to share my inconsequential, uneducated, and overgeneralized opinions. In no particular order, here are my Top 10 MVCs (Most Valuable Cheeses) and why they’ve made the list. You might agree or disagree. But if we are able to respectfully debate this topic, then maybe someday in the future, the sky will be blue again.
Parmesan lives many lives. One is a wheel, aging thoughtfully and gorgeously on a Mediterranean countryside, awoken only to be shaved upon fine handmade pasta served to Stanley Tucci. Another is shelf-stable dust, which masks my flavorless Italian cooking. I am equally grateful for both iterations and many others.
Loving blue cheese is deeper than a preference—it is a character trait shared only by those with true funk like the cheese itself. Place any of its veiny cousins on a charcuterie board and learn who your party guests really are.
Mozzarella with tomato is like a gluten-free person’s pacifier, a soothing reminder of one’s former relationship with pizza. I could melt shredded mozz and pizza sauce on a zucchini and convince myself it tastes good. My daughter thought she’d evolved beyond years of picky eating due to her newfound appreciation for mozzarella sticks, but I had to break the news to her that they’re just fried cheese.
Are you from Philly? There’s only one way to know. Wiz is radioactive neon sludge that folds atop a cheesesteak and acts as your unofficial proof of residency.
Gruyere adds the unparalleled decadence to dishes like mac and cheese, croque madame, and my basic-as-ever childhood favorite, French onion soup. Using a spoon to scrape burnt bits off the sides of a Jersey diner soup cup is a core memory for me.
Brie is a god-like meal substitute. You have not truly lived until you’ve eaten half a wheel of baked brie in a bread bowl with fruit preserves and called it dinner. There is nothing better than this.
Jarlsberg is the Costco of cheese. It’s a low-cost, high-value proposition. Buy a wedge and cube it. What the hell, buy two. A food magazine once suggested you fill the empty spots on a charcuterie board with grapes. Ha! Has anyone checked in on the price of grapes lately? I’ve abandoned more cotton candy grapes at the register than dresses excluded from a friends & family sale.
Munster has no better home than on a bagel with smoked salmon and other fishes, except for maybe in the hand of a child who won’t stop asking if brunch is ready.
Choosing burrata is how we lie. We convince ourselves we are eating a salad, because someone sprinkled arugula around two wobbly blobs of cheese. I am this person. You are this person. We are liars of the best kind.
Cheddar is old school. Nostalgic. Your ride or die cheese. Waxy and sharp, cubed and shredded, you’ve enjoyed it all ways on all sorts of occasions and shouldn’t be ashamed to love it as much as the t-shirt you’ve slept in since high school.
What are your MVCs? Comment below or LMK: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The little things
In last week’s newsletter, I wrote about my one-night reunion with my college roommate in Montreal. Apropos of that special moment, this poem really resonated with me. Hannah’s autobiographical poetry is so approachable that it reads like a diary, and in many respects, I see parallels between her work and the stories I share in Our Tiny Rebellions. Should you enjoy it, consider following her or subscribing to her newsletter.
VictimsFirst is a non-profit network of survivors and supporting resource providers that not only assists the victims directly but helps communities mobilize and provide the right type of support after a tragedy. You can also donate securely to victims of Buffalo and Uvalde through their GoFundMe pages.
Please keep them coming! Even your tiniest win can inspire another person. Here’s one I received on Instagram:
Hope applied and received a huge promotion when her son was nine months old. When she began the job, she was pumping, and he was in daycare. Now, five years later, she’s advanced in her role, and it still allows her a real work/family balance that she’s very grateful for.
Thanks for reading Our Tiny Rebellions! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.