I ate three cheeses on Saturday night. The first was a lovely hard cheese that reminded me of Campo de Montalban or Zamorano — nutty and rich, with a great texture. Wonderful stuff.
And then everything came crashing down in a cataclysmic blast of vileness as my lovely hostess pressed another seemingly innocuous cheese on me. I hesitate to say that it was the worst cheese I have ever eaten, because I have had some bad ones. My father is a big fan of crappy cheese, but I learned my lesson a long time ago, when I was just a lad, and the memories have, thankfully, faded into a vague unease whenever he suggests a cheese course. But this new cheese caught me by surprise, because it hid its disgustingness under a surprisingly mild aroma. I was completely unprepared for the blast of ammonia, some unidentified, but really awful bitter flavor, and…actually, that was enough. I didn’t spit it across the table, because I have slightly better manners than that, but I was sorely tempted. After I got off the phone with Poison Control, I returned to the table and was promptly offered another, brie-looking thing, sitting forlornly in its own ramekin. I knew that no matter what, it wasn’t going to be as bad as the previous taste, so I charged right back into the fray and promptly got whacked by another, equally horrible taste. At least this one had a nicer texture, but it was sufficiently awful that I have sworn off cheese for at least the next several hours.
One of the delightful things about cheese is that there are so many of them that the chances of meeting the same really bad one more than once are surprisingly slim. And I am thankful for that, because it would be difficult to get my minimum daily requirement of cholesterol without my 4-6 daily servings of cheese.
I wonder what my food pyramid would look like?
8 Replies to “A Cheese Catastrophe”
Did you actually chew it up and swallow it?
Out of curiosity, were you drinking anything while consuming the off-putting fromage? I ask because there are a few cheeses I’ve loved on their own, which, when paired with the wrong beverage, become almost inedible.
That’s an interesting point. I have, in the past, found combinations of wine and cheese that were unpleasant. But this was far, far beyond that. This was the Devil’s cheese!
Nothing like a good whiff of ammonia to get your attention. I was in San Antonio a few weeks ago. The Valentine’s Day special at the “rotating restaurant on top of the highest building in San Antone!” was a whole lobster with a “truffle crust.”, truffle polenta and truffled something else. The restaurant was spinning and I had a slight hangover, but as we all know Texas is fresh lobster country and apparently everything was going to be smothered in truffles, so I felt I had little to lose. It wasn’t the fact that the interior of the lobster was still frozen that was so off-putting, it was the sinus-clearing smell of Windex coming off the plate that made me gag. Needless to say, it was sent back to the kitchen with extreme prejudice and I ate my date’s prime rib instead.
At some point all of us have thrown in the towel and ordered the burger, hoping that it is well-done enough to kill the toxigenic e.coli. Sometimes it just isn’t possible to get an interesting meal.
I was a guest, and I thought it would be rude to ask where my otherwise pleasant hostess had found the cheese with which she had attempted to poison me.
“Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster.”
– Ferran Adria