I’m learning a lot about cheese; how to handle it, how to taste it, where it comes from and what I like. Today I picked up 12 pounds of cheese before work. Mind you, this is the second trip out to restock the cooler this week.
The cheeses from the CSA farm were on both runs, but today I met with an Italian cheese importer. Sounds important I know, but we met in at his house, in his garage, in Nashua New Hampshire. Not exactly Boston’s North End. Flavio is my age, his two sons are the same age as my daughters. He is shorter by lots more than a hair, of which he has few. In an elegant way only true Italians can, he makes you feel beautiful and covers his lack of height with an accent so thick you want to run away with him.
As we sampled the huge wheels in his small “storefront” we talked about life; his wife of thirty or so years is Chinese and he expounded about the way to marital success. Later, as we were touring his other garage/warehouse, he pulled out his wallet and started showing me his wedding photo and shots of his sons. I commented that an Italian/Chinese heritage served them well and they were handsome young men. Did I forget to say, he showed me photos in his wallet? No iPhone, no YouTube videos, no Instagram.
One of the cheeses I bought was a Black Truffle, semi-soft cheese from Tuscany. I didn’t try it first and it was wildly expensive, even at wholesale. Later, as I cut it into wedges, weighed and lovingly wrapped it, I knew it was beyond special. As Flavio had shown me was proper with all his cheeses, I shaved a thin slice and let it melt on my tongue. “Americans don’t savor their cheese, they just hack of a chunk and eat it like candy. The flavor is best tested with a very thin slice.”
Benjamin is the Swiss cheese-maker at the CSA. His accent is equally lovely, though he is the physical opposite of Flavio. When I push open the heavy door to his creamery, the stainless steel gleams and the aroma is pure heaven. He towers over the vats and tables, thin as a rail and dressed in crisp white from the cap over his black hair to his boots. He speaks slowly, carefully choosing his words and seems proud but humbled before his creations.
I think I just discovered how I am going to reach my goal of adding ten pounds to my frame by Christmas…