o-GRILLED-CHEESE-facebookSometimes column topics take hours to come up with. Sometimes they punch you in the face. This week, the punch happened. Because? Cheese. Duh. My most favorite food in the world (tied with bread). How is it possible I’ve never written about my deep love for it? Come up with an ode, ballad, even limerick on its behalf? Well, the time has arrived. Presenting: Cheese, a love letter.

Dear Cheese,

I love you.

Just kidding. You know that. Obviously. Haha. Tell me something I don’t know, right? Haha. This flowery lavender stationary was your first clue, right? Haha. Sorry, I’m a little nervous talking to you. That’s where this annoying laugh is coming from. For the record, I don’t usually have one.

Ahem.

Anyway, how are you? I’m fine.

I wanted to write to you to tell you how much I appreciate you. Like in the afternoons when it’s 4:30 and dinner isn’t until 8 and there is a block of extra sharp Cabot cheddar in the fridge and there are Triscuits in the cupboard. And I cut off slices from the block and then put them on the crackers and then zap them in the microwave for 12 seconds and everything gets melty and perfect.

How melty you are is one of my favorite things about you. Like virgin mozzarella on pizza. Or in grilled cheese sandwiches, when you cut them into triangles and pull the triangles apart and the cheddar oozes. Or on burgers. It’s wrong to like Velveeta, just like it’s wrong to like boys who wear motorcycle jackets and piercings, but it feels so right, doesn’t it? You bite into the burger and there is that layer of richness, right against the crispy pickle, sticking to the juicy tomato slice and you think: No. No, it doesn’t get any better than this.

But you’re much more than your melt. It’s your variety too. You’re like a dog, but, I mean, obviously much tastier. Yeesh. That wasn’t a very good comparison. I mean, you’re not hairy like a dog or barky like one. I mean you just come in so many iterations. Like poodles and Saint Bernards. Who would think they’d be genetically related? Kind of like Manchego and Cambozola, one straight-forward and Spanish, the other a French-Italian hybrid of triple crème shot with veins of gorgonzola. Very different, yet the same.

If I had to pick a favorite variety, I’d have to say Époisses is it. People say it’s stinky, and I guess it is stinky, but I like it. I think that’s how you know you really love someone: when you don’t think they stink.

My husband I discovered Époisses at a cheese counter in Lexington years ago. This very knowledgeable lady recommended it and told us to let it stay at room temperature for an hour before trying it. I think William and I had lived together for maybe a year and everything was an adventure. A first time. Like picking out dish towels at Kmart was fun. Light switch plates merited careful conversation. Postage stamps: flags or flowers. You get the picture.

Anyway, buying this cheese was special, partly for the helpful woman, partly for our young love, partly that it came in a round, wooden box. After we we got it home and had watched it for an hour, I remember what a revelation the first bite was. I really do believe food can change your life, or at least after you try something you really love, you can’t go back, and that’s exactly how I felt that day. Yes, there would be other new cheese experiences. But that was the first one that really knocked my socks off.

Of course, sometimes I can love you so much it gets me into trouble. You know, when I step on the scale and my eyes bug out of my head and make that claxon sound effect, that’s when I know I need to cool things off. There is such a thing as too much passion, don’t you agree? But when I stay away from you, don’t think it’s because I don’t love you anymore. After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder.

Boy, does it feel good to get this off my chest. I knew you’d be a great listener. Thanks for everything. Truly, Cheese, you make my life better almost every day. And how many things can you say that about?

Most sincerely and with all my love,

Tara

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