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maggiethecat

Entries: Round 25

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Epicurus wrote:

"Send me some preserved cheese, that when I like I may have a feast." No disrespect to The Man or anything, but: you can do better. Post your entries here.

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Epicurus wrote:

"Send me some preserved cheese, that when I like I may have a feast."  No disrespect to The Man or anything, but: you can do better.  Post your entries here.

Purple Haze (from Cypress Grove Farm)

Sung to the tune Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix

Purple haze on my plate

Thank God, American cheese just don't seem the same

Smelling yummy, what I just ate

'Scuse me while spread some more

Purple haze with fennel pollen & lavender

Serve it up with cornichons & toasts

Actin' funny, but I don't know why

'Scuse me while I kiss this cheese

Purple haze all around

Don't know if got more in the fridge

Am I happy or just dizzy

Whatever it is that cheese put a spell on me

(well it doesn't neccessarily rhyme, but it works for me (its really great cheese!!!!)

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His bushy eyebrows drew closer together. It seemed as if E.G. Peskyfirther’s brows were trying to form the “V” of Victory on the mounded hill of his face. It made one wonder, where else but in the magnificent metropolis of New York City, where else but in the hallowed halls that rose grimly proud over the cobbled lanes of Wall Street, where else could you find a man like this, so intent on greatness and perfection!

“What is this?!” he bellowed towards me, stretching his neck out to the full extent of its four inch length. “I wanted exactly, precisely, one ounce of cheese!”

I turned from the open door of the refrigerator and saw him in the full display of his rage. His short, pudgy hand arched out with venom. His mouth, jaw, eyes, and infamous eyebrows all worked in unison now, each displaying a quality of dance-like movement…all full of anger, distress, and extreme disappointment.

“My diet " (as he intoned the holy word, his eyes closed with religious rapture) "requires one ounce of cheese. At this time of day. Each day. Not more, not less! And I must tell you…the last time that I broke this rule, the disaster that was Black Monday occurred. What do you think of that?”

I saw him wince briefly as he pounded his hand onto the hard wooden butcher-block table with a rubbery smack before continuing his narrative.

“It must be one ounce of cheese. It must be a sharp Cheddar. It must hail from Wisconsin or New York State. Ideally, it will come from Liverhat, Wisconsin or Slapsings Folly, New York, These geographic locations are the ultimate prime

meridians for perfect cheese. Never listen to those who say that Fofum Valley in Minnesota or Wompummfat, Oregon has the equal grace in cheesemaking. It is not so!”

I raised the five pound block of cheddar from its swaddling of three thicknesses of cellophane wrap, benignly assessing its major charms: a superb orange greasiness; a stench half of skunk and half of wet basement (or maybe more like a dead skunk laying in a wet basement); and a grating finish of aftertaste that stuck your tongue to the roof of your mouth like a bloodsucker to a bare leg in a weed-filled northern lake.

It was my second day on the job as Sous-Chef in the Executive Dining Rooms, and so far I had learned a great deal: Do not arrive for work early, least you be greeted by twelve VIP wanna-be’s who suddenly required personalized breakfast cooked for them (ASAP, natch); do not smile at people, for they would then arrive at the kitchen door with winsome doglike little smiles, simpering about how good those cookies were they’d had last week…were there any more “just laying around?”; and finally, never, ever get caught in a conversation with E.G. Peskyfirther, for to do so was to risk your job at the drop of a hat if not at the very least the loss of your sanity. At 6:40 A.M., it seemed to me to be too early for an angry rampage about a dairy product’s “perfect weight”, but again, this was E.G. and he had his ways.

I swung the mountain of cheese out of the chill of its refrigerated home and smacked it down onto the chopping block, just missing E.G.’s perfectly manicured little round pink fingers that were gripping the grain of the wood just a mere three inches away. E.G. had nothing to fear from me, though, but for a growing willingness to enter into an argument over a bunch of nonsense.

“I didn’t get any instructions from the Chef about your cheese requirements, Squire. . .uh, I mean Sir” I simpered with a tight little smile in his direction as I pulled an eight inch Chinese cleaver from the drawer.

“She knows what I need! Where is she? Why were you not told?!” he barked and whinnied with all three of his chins quivering.

I began to cut a piece of cheese. “Now, Mr. Peskyfirther, I will get you a new piece of cheese, but don’t expect it to be “cookie-cutter” perfect, for I do not have the exact dimensions you require nor do we have a working scale in the kitchen. I will just follow the directions for cheese-paring, I mean cutting, that were printed in this month’s issue of Tootin’ Foodies magazine. The article was quite extensive, an entire twelve pages. Surely you read it?” I asked, as the knife moved towards the cheese. I looked over at him and grinned with an overbearing solicitous manner. Personally I thought the man needed professional help. His thirty-six million dollars a year in annual compensation (not counting bonuses or profit shares) would seem to argue against this, though. Maybe there was something to this cheese thing.

“Hie!” he snorted at me, and started to shout out his orders as a small drop of snot started dripping from his nose from the strength of his exclamation. “It must be one exact ounce! It must be the shape I always get it in, and don’t think you can fool me, young lady!”

“We’ll have you all set in just a snap, Master. . .uh, I mean Mr. Peskyfirther. . .for I have one idea in mind here. . .to do my job as best I can. . .to make you happy. . .and to get this cheese back into the refrigerator so that I no longer have to smell it” I smoothly replied. “I will cut you an ounce of cheese, an amazing and perfect ounce of cheese. Do not doubt me now, for neither I nor the cheese will disappoint you.”

His bright red face was glazed with sweat now, he stared with beady eyes as my knife moved.

“Now I said I would cut an exact ounce of cheese.” I admit that I almost began to giggle as I unwrapped the foil that surrounded the quarter pound of butter, four ounces it said on the package, that I held in my hand. . .but it was a giggle of impending madness. “There is no scale here” I continued, while hacking at the huge block of greasy orange congealed milkfat that he called cheese, “and the Chef said to just guess, if something needed weighing. Could be that I can do better than that. . .let’s just see. . .”

Placing a chunk of cheese onto the butter wrapper, I sliced it into a chunk along the printed line that said “one oz.” then took the knife and slid the cheese towards him across the worktable.

“Here is your cheese. One exact ounce cut by volume. Please check the reference on your diet. Was it really one ounce of cheese by weight that they required?”

His face and eyebrows did not know what to do now. They gnashed and wriggled and shook and started, but no victory sign was attempted with the eyebrows, for he could not decide. What was this that had happened?

“Open thine eyes and thou shalt be satisfied with bread!” I snapped at him as I swung the refrigerator door closed on the foul beastie of curds called New York Cheddar.

A huge gasping laugh broke from his gaping face as he tottered sideways then grabbed the chunk of cheese and ran for safety away from the kitchen down towards the elegant corner office on the trading floor. “Cheese weighed by volume! Ha, ha! Black Monday will never cross my mind again!”

“Yeah” I muttered under my breath as I pulled out the production sheets to begin lunch. “An ounce of prevention sure would have been worth a pound of cure in this case. Wouldn’t it have been better if your diet had required Reblochon? Then I could have at least respected you.”


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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The Moon is made of Green Cheese

The cat climbed up my leg with her claws just barely scraping through my jeans. She lunged up towards my hands. They held a fat square of Velveeta cheese I’d just cut from a loaf that was shaped like nothing so much as a 24 K gold boullion cube straight from the Federal Reserve Bank. To this cat, it was as precious as any gold would be to man. She was pregnant, hugely so…and she had not eaten in a very long time.

I didn’t know that, when I walked into the room with the cheese. It was my first day in the apartment and I hadn’t even known there was a cat in the place. The cheese fell from my hands, and I shrieked with mild terror and surprise. The cat grabbed the odd-shaped bit of Velveeta and almost swallowed it whole. She ran towards my legs again, desperate to find more of the manna that had appeared; the manna that would save her and her soon-to-be-born kittens lives.

We stared at each other in a sort of mesmerized shock. She began to mew and demand. Naturally I murmured okay, okay. She ran to the eyedropper-sized kitchen just ahead of me and started to climb my leg yet once again as I began to cut the cheese. It hurt. Quickly, I placed the cheese on a paper bag, for there were no plates to be seen, and practically dropped it on the floor. She inhaled it. An old cracked turquoise plastic bowl in the cupboard was filled with some cool water and she fell upon it, slurping in a little cat-dainty way as if she were a gourmand stranded on a desert isle for many years, and it a fine vintage bottle of wine found in a corner of some far flung cave.

I ate a bit of the cheese myself, along with several pieces of Wonder Bread that I had just bought at Key Food. This was all that I could afford to buy with the money that I’d panhandled in the place with the infamous name of Needle Park (though I didn’t know that then), all three dollars and forty cents of it. I was fourteen years old. It was my first day in New York as a runaway.

Why would anyone choose to buy Velveeta cheese and Wonder Bread if they only had money for several small food items to buy? I don’t know, really. It was not the usual thing that I would have chosen to eat before leaving home, but in the time that had passed since then, and in comparison to some of the other fare I’d eaten, it seemed just right. It actually seemed a luxury. It was soft. One could imagine it warm. It was rich and giving. It was wrapped in lovely shiny silver paper that had a sensual feel of heft and assurance inside the bold yellow cardboard box. It seemed so American, so self-assured, so right, so very settled. Those were the promises that Velveeta held for me that day at Key Food in the narrow scuffed aisles. The Wonder Bread, too, was the cheese’s friendly partner in its own right, with its wrapper of bright ballooning shapes, printed boldly with the solid promise that it would “Build Strong Bodies Twelve Ways”. Out in the big world acting as I thought a grownup should, but still yet a child, I longed for that stolid sense of promised security and health; goodwill and sunshine; the American Way.

We shared the bread and cheese, the cat and I…and over the next several months became friends and allies against the noisy late night tirades of the other tenant in the apartment, Warren the heroin addict. Warren had been the other surprise, besides the starving cat. I’d not been told about either of these inhabitants of the place when an acquaintance had said I could stay there and “apartment-sit” for her. My friend the tabby cat continued to share the food I’d bring home for several weeks, and the kittens were born healthy, four of them, quietly in a corner of the closet in due course.

One day soon after that, the cat’s owner whisked into town and carried them all away. I moved out of the apartment as quickly as I could afterwards. It was not the same without the cat, the bread, and the cheese. Though all these things were on the far side of elegance…a cardboard box of processed cheese spread, a sponge of a wad of tasteless bread, a rangy-looking old cat, none of that mattered the tiniest whit. There was great comfort to be found then… and there always will be in a cat, some bread and some cheese.


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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Excerpts from “The Chronicle of Higher Chalk and Cheese”

Reprinted with permission

August 2005:

The market for cheese has dropped rapidly in the past two months, and is still falling, raising fears among cheese producers that their businesses will no longer be viable. “I just can’t cut the cheese anymore” stated one artisan cheese maker in an interview with the Chronicle. “It all started with the “Literary Smackdown Contest” on that important food and wine website. So very few people bothered to respond to the challenge to write about the subject of cheese that the national media took notice and quickly posted their own stories about the Fall of Cheese…how it was no longer “in” with the Foodie Incrowd.

Sales have been dropping ever since. I’ve had to let fourteen of my goats go, I can’t use their milk, they are now the neighbor’s bratty children’s pets…what is the world coming to?!” Other cheese producers are in agreement with these thoughts expressed, and the cheese world is in a tizzy.

January 2009:

As bio-engineered foodstuffs increase in popularity in the world-wide market, fine cheese continues to fall in sales. Since the discovery of how to grow filet of beef and chicken breasts in the laboratory from one existing cell into thousands of pounds of yield, live animal breeding has decreased. The factors influencing the consumer preference for bio-engineered foods are a) Money…lower price of product; b) Health…better disease and sanitation controls of product; c) Cultural…less inhumane treatment of livestock. The majority of the general public have now come to the point where the slaughter of an animal for food is a crime against nature in their personal value systems; and d) Real Estate…farmland freed from farming has been the source of the latest real-estate boom, making millionaires of everyday folk.

May 2015:

Fine Artisan cheese has disappeared almost entirely from the world-wide marketplace. American cheese slices and Cheeze-Wiz are still to be found almost everywhere, and fast food emporiums are the major buyers of these products, incorporating them into almost every one of the recipe items they offer, including desserts and beverages. The “Hot Pepper and Cheese” smoothie is the new hit of the season at America’s largest fast-food restaurant chain. It is said that artisan cheeses can still be found on-line by joining the latest fashionable clubs, which claim to offer their converts the ancient knowledge that will allow one to prophesize the future through reading cracks and pockmarks in the various cheese varieties they still create. This ancient art is called “Tyromancy” and has existed since Classical Civilizations flourished on the earth, but had dropped into a neglected phase in the years since.

March 2038:

In this year of a frozen winter, a disaster of unimagined proportions has occurred. A new and unknown virus has found its way into the world’s food sources, all of which are currently bio-engineered and created in laboratories. Meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and fruits have all been infected. Malnutrition is approaching the top levels ever known. People are killing each other for their neighbors’ pet cats, dogs, and birds in an effort to find something to eat. The zoos are being emptied as they were long ago in wartime, in the long-ago time when people had few scruples over sacrificing an animal for food, but now, picket lines and protesters are attacking each other with weapons over whether or not the animals should be eaten. Scientists are working day and night to try to contain and destroy the virus which has attacked the food source, and are being kept alive themselves to do this task with numerous cans of Cheeze-Wiz.

April 2038:

The virus has still not been contained but there is hope on the horizon. The art of cheese making has not been completely lost to civilization as was previously thought. A sect of Orthodox Jews has come forth from the veiled privacy of their culture to offer the world a chance to learn this lost art. They have been saving the knowledge of how to make artisan cheese in the ways that Christian Monks saved knowledge during the previous Dark Ages. It was vitally important to their culture to do so, as it would have been impossible for them to follow their religious edicts without the daily act of keeping dairy and meat separate. If dairy did not exist (as it has not, in the recent past number of years) they would not be able to act in the manner which they believed was right. The loss of sacred ritual in day to day life was not to be lost to them, so they quietly raised cattle and maintained the art of cheese-making for their own use, and have now come forth to offer this knowledge to the world. Teams of scientists from every part of the earth are racing to these small farms to learn the ways of producing cheese, so that the world will no longer suffer. A cultural renaissance is underway, and all because of cheese!

June 2040:

Black Market cheese continues to demand a high price as artisan cheese-makers continue to develop new products. Most of the populace is happily re-growing their lives on the generic Swiss Cheese that is being manufactured by the ton while the virus that decimated the world’s food source is still being contained. It is said that Black Market chickens are available in some areas of West Virginia. What is next? The ancient food called “The Hamburger”…made from a freshly slaughtered steer? Time will tell…


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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Cheese, Please

History has shown us many examples of the ways in which cheese has been a strategic part of society and culture. How often have we looked back in time with awe at the way Hannibal was able to lead an army of elephants into Ancient Rome over mountainous terrain, wondering at the marvelous fact that we now have finally realized…that the elephants were moving solely to escape the aromatic breaths of the soldiers behind them, breaths that were perfumed with the odiferous combination of aged goat cheeses, raw garlic, and garum. The legendary beauty of Cleopatra can also be traced to the power of cheese, as we have recently discovered the secret recipe that she used for her daily facials…camel’s milk cream cheese whipped by hand with lemon and olive oil, applied and allowed to work its magic for at least the time that it would take for one or two slave dances every evening. The magic of Leonardo da Vinci was touched by cheese also, as scholarly investigation has found that each of his personal paint recipes included a tiny grating of Parmesan cheese to add texture and a certain golden hue to the colors…and of course many important pianists around the world will admit to the fact that a quick rub down of the piano keys with a fresh slice of mozzarella di bufalo does wonders where fast fingering is required in the score.

There are so many more ways in which cheese can enhance our daily existence on earth besides the usual, commonplace one of placing it in our mouths, moving it around between our teeth and tongue, moaning a bit in pleasure (or, in the case of some goat cheeses, choking in bitter shock) and swallowing it for caloric sustenance. According to the type of cheese, one can accomplish so many daily acts of life with so much more pleasure within the simple acts and an even greater sense of accomplishment.

Each type of cheese has its own abilities and offerings. Some of these are listed below for those who would wish to further their education in fromagerie scholararie to experience a more fruitful and pleasant way of life.

Brie: A large round of Brie is a better bed pillow than one can imagine, unless you have already tried it. The velvety texture of the rind is smoother and softer than brushed silk, and has the additional benefit of reducing lines and wrinkles on the face by constant application of vitamins and phosphates which are inherent in the cheese. One’s head is cradled gently, almost hugged by the soft diaphanous cheese, and the nights dreams are accompanied by the gentle scent of warmed Brie (with walnuts or olives, depending on your personal food philosophy) which is not a bad thing at all, at all.

Cheddar: Aged cheddar has been proven to be an excellent material out of which to make children’s toys. The younger the child, the better, for when they have finished playing with the toy and are bored, they can simply eat it with no complaints. Some of the toys which cheddar is good for are: small building blocks; dolls (use raisins for the eyes and celery for the arms and legs); and any sort of building system such as Lego or Erector sets. Cheddar can also be used to replace computer keys which children have broken off.

Swiss: What can not be made of a slice of Swiss cheese?! Lay it out and dry it a bit, then use a hole-punch along the edges. It can then be sewn into any fashion one can desire, from leggings to hats. The clothing never needs laundering, simply a wipe with a damp cloth or an occasional rub-down with a bit of mayonnaise for a pleasing shine.

St. Andre: St. Andre is the best massage cream one can imagine. Skin is left glowing and fragrant, particularly after the bite and tongue marks go away from the removal process.

These are only a few of the ideas that cheese offers us today. Many more can be found by simply opening up the box, breathing in deeply of the cow-and-vinegar smell, and allowing your imagination to flow. Remember what Brillat-Savarin said: “A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye”. Carry that thought through your day, and enjoy!

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Not Your Average Joe

Walking into the house that was set in the working class section of Bridgeport, Connecticut it might seem as if you were entering a maze. An amusement park perhaps, the back part where the tricky things were kept that were used to amuse the crowds, the things that were made of bits of strong cloth and even stronger bits of metal, the clutter of odd shaped paraphernalia that just made one feel as if the Wizard of Oz must be around somewhere, if not a midget or a dwarf or the Snake Lady…some sort of person that would induce amazed wonder.

Follow through to the end of this somewhat claustrophobic hall and you would enter directly into the kitchen. And there she was. She did not induce any sort of wonder in the way she looked. Standing about four feet eight inches tall, Josephine had grey hair pulled back, always pulled back but for when she would retire at night. Then the hair would cascade down her back in a total surprise of rebellion, the image reminding one that the old were once young and that the young will become old as sure as any thing can be on this earth. Her hair that was daily rolled into its bun suited her, though, for she was a direct no-nonsense woman that had lived well and with full health into her seventies.

The kitchen was where Jo existed. You could find her other places…once in a while in the garden outside in the lot that was set to the side of this house that had raised a family of six children, four boys and two girls all somehow surviving and growing in three bedrooms. You might find her once a year or so at church. But the rest of the time, all the time, you would find her in her kitchen. There, this tiny, uneducated, unpretensious woman was Queen.

Jo cooked every day of her life. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Seven days a week, no respite. Nobody else would dream of approaching the kitchen to cook, not only because she was Queen but because nobody wished to go even one meal without tasting the food she and she alone could make. Her daughters had been taught to cook, and her sons a bit too…but never was the savor the same. It was not the ingredients, for they were the same. It was not the methods, for the methods she used were nothing if not basic. It was not the equipment nor the weather nor the mood of the person nor anything, anything at all that could be found to answer the question “Why?” It was just Josephine. Josephine was not an artist with the food, no. Not unless you believe that what an artist does is to somehow transport love into their works. For that is what Josephine did, and that was the taste that filled the mouths of those who were lucky enough to partake of it. Jo’s food was love, made real enough to eat.

“Hey, hey!” her small high-pitched Italian-accented voice would warm one as they entered the kitchen, her kitchen, her kingdom. “What’re you doing? Sit down, sit down, here, eat!” And you would not have a choice. It did not matter if you were hungry or not, for the food would appear before you on the table that was cluttered with a zillion things as she bustled busily in the six foot space between sink and stove and refrigerator. You would have to perch on the kitchen chair and then enter into the world of busy conversation, half in Italian and half shouted in laughing English… and bowls and plates and pots of food, food that said love, food that would send you into a place of deep contentment and childlike passivity.

What did she cook? Nothing new….nothing too expensive or finessed, that is for sure. This food was prepared on a shoestring, but that shoestring could tie the world together, and do it beautifully. There were roasts seasoned with garlic and fresh herbs, endless platters of strange bitter vegetables of all shades of green, some from the garden, some from the market and some picked at the side of the road. There were small glasses of strong homemade wine with larger glasses of tepid water served in a cacophony of different designs of glassware to wash it down. There was polenta and rice and pasta, always with some sort of “ururu” or ragu, the tomato sauce that filled the house with the aromas that only a long-simmering, meat-and-herb seasoned tomato sauce can give, the aromas that hint of bright sunshine and laughter, the ease, simplicity and suppleness of the Latin way of life.

But there was one thing that Jo used in her cooking in almost every dish. One “magic ingredient” beyond and besides the love that proved inimitable. Cheese. Cheese of all sorts and varieties was pinched or shaken or grated onto almost everything. Never was it slathered or piled or used to add the cloying overpowering richness that could deceive one into believing the dish was good, simply based on the pure cheese-y richness of it. It was always a counterpoint, an accent. It was the feather in her cap.

Homemade ricotta was whipped into a soft puff then poured over macaroni with a ragu sauce, the creamy cool whiteness of the cheese seeming like a gathering of angels hovering over and protecting, aiding and abetting the spicy sauce and heavy pasta lowering below it waiting for its touch. Grana padano fell like golden tears into the rich chicken broths that were filled with whatever happened to appear that day…bitter greens, double-yolked eggs, fresh peas, rice…it melted just enough to allow that the tears that it was were now gone, that all was right with the world, all in this bowl of golden soup. Slices of grainy Provolone were layered into potato gratins, the earthiness of the potatoes somehow being made to seem more real, more solid, more powerful, with the addition of the cheese.

The book has not been written yet of Josephine’s recipes. Would it be possible? Would the recipes, even so closely written and carefully detailed, even filled with memories, would these recipes ever be able to do what they claimed…to bring Jo’s love into reality again, in the form of a bite taken of a fine dish of food?

It is not possible to know the answer to that question. But there is one thing that any cook who wishes to dish up a plate of love to eat

can be sure of. Add a bit of cheese to your recipe, gracefully and carefully, as if it were a kiss on the top of a child’s nose. The love will be tasted.

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Whoa. Brilliant.

I have been a distracted and absent Dark Lady. I apologize. Smack 'em down fast: the panel of judges will deliberate on Saturday.

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Jo’s food was love, made real enough to eat.

Homemade ricotta was whipped into a soft puff then poured over macaroni with a ragu sauce, the creamy cool whiteness of the cheese seeming like a gathering of angels hovering over and protecting, aiding and abetting the spicy sauce and heavy pasta lowering below it waiting for its touch. Grana padano fell like golden tears into the rich chicken broths that were filled with whatever happened to appear that day…bitter greens, double-yolked eggs, fresh peas, rice…it melted just enough to allow that the tears that it was were now gone, that all was right with the world, all in this bowl of golden soup.

Lovely. Just wonderful. As is the entire story of Josephine. I had skipped the thread for some time, having seen the same name as last poster several times, thinking it was the same piece, but came back today for a re-reading of the entire thread, and encountered the several pieces, of which this is the definite winner.

And I suspect that, despite your verbs, it was in the garden that she EXISTED. It was in the kitchen that she LIVED.

Beautiful.

rachel

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Maggie. . .I am truly sorry if I've confused anything with my late entries and my ongoing entries. It is just that I am having so much fun with this cheese thing . . .

Karen

In the Name of Love

Over the years, Michael had developed the habit of disappearing for a day or two here and there. It was not that he really disappeared, for he did keep in touch with his family and his place of work. . .but it was a fact that nobody really knew where he went. His boss and co-workers thought he was at home. His wife and children thought he was away on business. This had gone on for many years before the first hint of his secret life leaked out. It was discovered by his secretary, one day when his wife called work to get the phone number of the hotel where he was staying, for she had misplaced it. The secretary was stunned into silence by the request, but in a record-quick recovery time of one and a half seconds, she collected herself. She realized what was really going on, for some of her own weekends and evenings were spent with a certain married man in a nearby hotel, while her own husband believed her to be working. In an instant, she calmly spoke, following the code of those who dissemble, the code that says, “Bend truth for others as well as for oneself for one never knows when a backup falsehood will be needed in return.”

“Oh! Didn’t you get his e-mail? It must have gotten lost in cyberspace. The hotel was booked up when he arrived, and he had to go find another one. It’s quite busy there right now. . . convention time, you know. I’m sure he will let us know as soon as he locates another room!” Janice smilingly said to his wife. And as soon as she hung up the phone, she hit the keys on the computer quickly, sending him an e-mail telling him that his wife was trying to get in touch with him. She hoped that he would check his e-mail. And that was all that was ever said of it between them.

Time went on, years passed. Life was the usual routine with Michael and his family. He continued his disappearances, and nobody knew the better, for his secretary was uninterested and his wife had been lulled into the usual calm of accepting his word as good. She had received an e-mail from him shortly after that phone call several years ago, an e-mail that told her he had moved to a new hotel for the duration of the trip, and he gave her the phone number where he could be reached. The children grew, the family prospered in a quiet way, albeit sometimes in a lonely way for Emelie, his wife, for his business trips became more frequent and the house was often empty but for her and the children. It became so that the children did not even ask after their father anymore, for he was more of a figurehead than a real, live person to them.

It was on a hot sunny Sunday afternoon that the phone call came, the phone call that tore this mundane, normal world apart into tiny shreds for them all. Emilie picked it up and heard the woman’s voice asking for Michael. “He is not here right now. May I take a message?”

Emilie asked politely.“Yes, thank you” the voice replied over the line. “This is Hodges Real Estate. I wondered if he had found an apartment yet. If not, I have something to show him and his friend.”

Emilie’s heart stopped for a brief second. The world did actually spin when this sort of surprise was sprung on one, she said to herself. But no, it could not be. It must be a mistake. Wrong phone number, mistaken identity. “Uh. . .you wanted to leave a message for Michael Upsyring? Michael J. Upsyring?” she breathed out into the receiver, hoping that the whole thing was a mistake.

“Yes, I hope it is okay. He did not want to leave a phone number but I was just so sure that this apartment is right for those two that I searched the internet to find it from the rental application he filled out with our company. He and Miss Dabnurt were just here last week. May I leave a message?” asked the caller with hope, the neverending hope for a rental fee in her pocket that could pay off her credit card bills.

“Miss Dabnurt? Oh. Yes. Okay. Yes, please leave your number. I will see that he gets the message” Emilie blurted out with her best attempt at control of her emotions. She jotted down the number and hung up.

Now what? she thought as she paced the room trying to sort out what was happening, what on earth could be happening here. Her heart was pounding out of her chest as she reached again for the telephone to dial Michael’s cellphone number.

“Hello!” Michael responded in his usual overbearingly charming way after picking up on the third ring. “Michael. . .uh. . .listen. Listen carefully” Emilie choked out into the receiver. “The cat is out of the bag. I know what is going on. I want to hear it from your ears, though. I know about your apartment hunting. And who you are doing it with. What is going on?”

There was a dead silence on the other end of the phone. Emilie spoke again, trying not to cry, for to burst into tears would allow his power over her, and that was something she had no wish to do now, at this moment, and perhaps never again. “Michael! Tell me! I have never done anything to hurt you. I have always been by your side. But I need to know what is going on!”

Michael spoke slowly but his voice was strained. “What do you mean? What are you talking about? Nothing is going on! You’re crazy! What makes you think something is going on?”

“Tell me the truth. Or I will find it out myself,” said Emilie. Yet he continued in his protestations. Then he became aggressively verbal and loud, asking Emilie, “Who told you this?” And with that, she knew. She knew it was true.

Now it was her turn to flatten the air with leaden, heavy, endless silence. The moments seemed like endless hours, like eternity, like she had floated into space somehow, a space where it was dark, cold, heartless, and empty of anything at all. Her voice left her body of its own accord to answer him.

“I’ll tell you who told me. . .if you tell me the truth. And that is the only way you will find out. Now tell me”, she droned in deadened tones. “I’m going to kill myself!” Michael spoke suddenly in a panicked tone. “I’m just going to kill myself!” “Okay” she replied in the voice that spoke on its own, the voice that was low and flat and so unlike her usual tones. “But why don’t you tell me about it first”.

And so he did.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

“Aren’t you going to make me something to eat?” Michael asked boldly in a semblance of his usual charm, his winning smile now making his face look like it belonged to a crocodile. “Get real, Michael. Make it yourself.” Emile replied as she passed him on the stairs on his return home. “But Emilie! You always cook for me! You are the best cook in the world! And I just complimented you on your new hairstyle! What is wrong with you?” Michael asked beseechingly in his always-slightly-demanding way. Emilie could not believe her ears. He had admitted to the fact that he was sharing an apartment with another woman. . and here he was asking for dinner to be cooked for him upon his arrival home? Simply because he complimented her hair? Really, the man was living in another world.

“Michael. Tell me that you will get rid of the apartment. Tonight. You should not be there, and neither should she. It is wrong. Then, there might be a chance I would cook you something, but really. Your attitude is outrageous!” she said levelly. “Otherwise, we will be looking at a divorce.”

He stopped walking and turned around. “Please. No. I don’t want a divorce. Please. We have something together. But I can not get rid of the apartment or her. I just can’t. Please. Listen. There must be something wrong with me, for I’ve done this before. Three years ago, when we lived in North Carolina. I did the same thing, but then I did leave the woman. I left her without telling her I was leaving or where I was going. I just disappeared after having the same sort of relationship with her for two years. There is something wrong with me, I tell you! I need help!” Emilie felt she was going to be sick. Turning away from him, she walked to the bedroom that she would never again share with him, and there she drowned in tears, in gulps of desperate air, being shocked by a battering of comets of shock and pain and disbelief. Her world, her whole world of the past ten years, had been a lie.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Months passed and still Michael could not bring himself to rid himself of the apartment and the woman. When he visited Emilie and the children, he slept in the basement den. . . and those visits became fewer and further apart. The children rarely asked about their father anymore, and when he appeared with a big crocodile smile and armloads of gifts from the toy store to gain their appreciation, they tore open the gifts and were made happy for the fifteen minutes it took to toss them around a bit. Then they walked away from him back to Emilie. He saw the slight look of disdain in their eyes. For his money did not hug them. It did not tuck them in at night or watch over them. It did not make them good things to eat nor did it fuss over them in all the moments of the day. His money and his gifts had no eyes to look into, no face to look up at in respect. It was cold, and it was selfish. And so they grew away from him.

The divorce eventually was finalized and life went on. It was six months later that Emilie picked up the phone again to hear another shocking message. This time, it was the state police. Michael had been in an automobile accident. Michael and the woman. They were both declared dead upon arrival to the hospital.

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“Sorry, guys, but we have to do this”. Emile quietly said to the children as she unlocked the apartment door in the faraway city where their father had lived his secret life. “We’ve got to go through Daddy’s stuff and sort it out. There is nobody else to do it, and he was your father.” The door opened, and they all stood back, eyes blinking in disbelief. The apartment was filled with refrigerators, of all sorts. There were big stainless steel ones and smaller old white ones. There were clear pass-through boxes and it seemed that one wall had two walk-in boxes built into it. Emilie backed out of the door. “Uh. . .gee. . .maybe we should not do this right now. Not right now, anyway. Let’s go get something to eat instead, huh?” for she could not imagine this sight. What was in all those refrigerators? It was just too too weird. She would call the police for help. They could investigate while she took the children back to the hotel.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

The world was just as amazed as Emilie to find out what was in those refrigerators. It was cheese. Cheese of every sort imaginable, cheese from all over the world, cheese catalogued to perfection and in loving detail. Each whole cheese had two round holes in it where two round paring tools had been used to remove two small bites. One for him and one for her. All in the name of love.

And when the will was probated and the sale of this fabulous collection completed at auction by Sotheby’s, Michael’s children and probably even their children were made wealthy by the sale. And why, how, did all this happen? It was all in the name of love. Cheesy love.


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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Journal entry 30090412

We’re hurling through outer space at a rate of 23,000 miles an hour. I’m in the cockpit of the ship we call the white Cadillac, due to the nasty smell that lingers from a decade of missions conducted by that pointy nosed tannin calquing Earth freak. It sucks to imagine the late great Capitain Fodorum, lecturing us with his lisping condescending earth wise extra stellar fungal knowledge. “Muenster is one of the most glorious of semi-soft cheeses in odour and texture when allowed to affine properly… ” I remember his shrill pompous whining, his enormous nostrils staring at me as if inviting me to search them like craters in an asteroid for fosselin life as I contemplated the jock strap ammoniac accosting my senses in every nook and cranny of this vessel, knowing that one day it would be mine. But that is the past now. The ship is indeed mine as of three days ago.

I managed to negotiate this post, yes, but the question is, how am I going to get rid of the organisms that allowed me to get it in the first place? These pesky fungal entities are murder to eliminate from a retro disto oxygen mix reconditioning system like the one we’ve got. The built in bugs have long fallen out of whack due to his vile habits, I am talking the odor is not going to be eradicated unless we radiate the ship at Neo New Laos Century Station and introduce some new bugs. I don’t think I have the budget to do it. I know this is the reason I even got this ship to begin with, I should be thankful.

Since we’re on the way, I’m thinking we can make a stop at Epoisse Enorme, the one place that will definitely have a huge contingent of fungal scrape dealers on hand to at least let us recuperate some of the losses that we’re going to incur with the radiation that’s going to be required. As much as I hate those seething smelly Earth freaks, they do pay a fortune to fill their petri dishes with rare specimens, and this ship is the paragon of nasty, many of them originating from the grand Terra him or herself. Problem is in order to get the big cash, I have to prove I can fess up the real goods. Therefore we are going to have to corrupt the big Fo’s cheese cave which apparently was bequeathed to some disease loving inter stellar association. God. Was really hoping that we could just eject it at Present Boomerorbital Depository. I know the stuff is valuable but for the life of me I can’t understand why in outer galaxy’s name we have to endure such vile nastiness, and why the hell they want it.

The reason why I have been appointed Captain of this ship is because I am a positive thinker. And for this reason, we are going to stop off at Epoisse and let those stinking hippies scrape just about anywhere they want. And they can have a cheese party too, plus I’ll thow in as much of that rotted fruit extract the big F kept blocking the holds as they are willing to take. It will be excellent to get rid of it all.

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A Taste for Something Different

“No, I absolutely refuse!” Susannah quietly responded, trying to keep her temper under wraps. “When I started this company, it was about being the best at what we did. . . it was about creating something beautiful. . .something that could command respect, something that would be pure and wonderful! What you are suggesting is sheer paltry kowtowing to profit. I won’t agree to it. It can not be done!”

The seven board members kept their eyes on the fine polished table, some doodling on yellow pads mindlessly, others twisting slightly back and forth in the soft black leather chairs on hidden wheels, making them look somewhat like a group of four-year-olds, made to sit at lunch a bit too long by some strict kindergarten teacher when really they just wanted badly to go out and play.

“Listen, Susannah, this is it.” Jeff, sitting at the end of the table with his tousled brown hair and small rectangular glasses, wearing a Ben & Jerry’s T-shirt, spoke. “This is the end of the company unless we make this change now, today. We should be glad that Reuben came up with the idea, really! Because otherwise it is the end. No more cheese. No more company. No more jobs for everyone we’ve hired over the years. The budget is kaput, the profits are flat, and there is nowhere to turn. Susannah’s Kaese, as a company, is done.”

“And you want me to agree to rename the company “Susannah’s Sexy Shmears”? You want the product to be re-developed into these two lines of “Grrrrrr Gorilla Grappling Cheese” for men and "Shhhh Shivers Sassy Cheese” for women?! It not only won’t work, but it is against everything we ever aimed for!” Susannah stood up and threw her pencil on the table, barely missing the tofu dip that was placed there, surrounded by pita chips and mini-veggies. “You guys are a bunch of idiots. I refuse to agree!” And with that, she stormed out of the room, her long grey-blond hair swinging angrily.

Jeff cleared his throat and wiped a spot of dip off his chin. “Sorry, everyone.” His voice was tremulous as he looked around at the others, who were all, like him, in casual attire, and who now were also chomping on veggies and tofu. “But it is time to vote, as you well know. Susannah will have to live with it. I am sure that she will see that we are right.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

The launching of the new gender-specific cheese products was a publicist’s dream. These products appealed to such a wide market. . .it was difficult to find anyone that did not want a piece of what they offered in a bite of cheese. What marvelous properties they could confer! An aura of sexual confidence. . .a claim to be an independent thinker. . .and the aspect of being knowledgeable about fine food.

Susannah finally had to admit that the company was doing better than ever before, and that their audience seemed well pleased. She had taken to traveling around the country doing cheese parties (for groups

that could afford the very high booking fee) and the Ben & Jerry’s t-shirt had been replaced with Prada from head to toe. And why not? She told herself. This was what she had wanted to do from the very beginning. . .make people happy!

One thing bothered her, though, but she tried not to think of it very much. The recipe for the new cheeses had never been known

to anyone except certain key people in the factory who were bound by law not to speak of it by Jeff. He claimed to have developed it based on his scientific research into pherenomes and did not want his secret recipes to be reproduced by anyone else. She put her worries out of her mind, though, as she slipped into the newest pair of shoes she’d just picked up on Madison Avenue.

………………………………………………………………………………………

Just how the truth about the recipes leaked out nobody ever really knew. Everyone involved had a different story, and none could be confirmed or denied completely. But it had leaked out, and it spelled doom for the company. Why? Because it turned out that there was absolutely no difference between the Grrrr Gorilla cheese and the Sassy Shivers cheese but for a bit of hot red pepper and some cilantro in the first and a hint of mint and fenugreek in the second. There was nothing at all in either of the cheeses that had to do with pherenomes. It was all a marketing hoax. After the Wall Street Journal reported the story on its first page, with a drawing of Jeff and Susannah looking unconcerned, sales fell drastically and class-action lawsuits were considered by at least fifteen different groups.

As Susannah entered the same room with the same group of men sitting around the table today, they did not look happy, again. The same men, now dressed in close-fitting clothes from Milan, now doodled with their Tiffany pens on their leather-bound notebooks. But the feelings were the same, the attitude was the same, and it seemed again that Susannah would be the same, for she was angry.

“You bunch of flibbertigibbets! You dawdling apes! What on earth made you think you could pull this off?!” This time she did not speak calmly but she shrieked, as is appropriate when clothed head to toe in Prada. “This time, it will be my way. This time, you will see truth win out and our company will be saved!” The men nodded unhappily, for nobody else had any ideas, besides to file for bankruptcy, of course. “We will call our cheese Earth Cheese” she continued. “It will speak to all the good things of the earth. People will think of great pastures of golden grain, of mountains capped with clear white ice, of streams glittering with dancing fish, and all this will lead to thoughts of happy cows and to cheese that will yield health and good nature to whomever eats it.” And so it was done. The company’s future was secured with Susannah’s idea of Earth Cheese, just as it had almost been broken before with what at the time was the tremendously popular Grrrrr Gorilla cheese and Sassy Shivers cheese. The world had been united in its hunger for this new cheese and in its adoration for the idea of it and for its taste.

What was the taste? That recipe was never revealed either, but strangely enough, nobody has ever been able to tell the difference between it and the usual yellow “American” cheese slices.

Go figure.

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Moira Tuscanaro’s Cue’bs for the Week

From Your Personal Cheesey Astrologer

Moira is here, cheese-lovers! Listen up and then bite right in!

Watch out for the Moon as it enters the path of Aries this week. There could be enough fire to toast your Kasseri! (I do so hope you all took the opportunity that presented itself last week for Bacchanal picnics, so encouraged by Virgo standing still for a brief moment in the sky!)

Here are your recommendations for the week to come. Remember, follow the stars when it comes to your cheese. It could change your life in drastic and unimaginable ways!

………………………………………………………………………………….

Aries the Ram: Aries, now don’t get too excited, but Cabrales is waiting for you. Your equally strong and demanding characters will meld into quite a match! Be sure to remember to wipe the crumbs from your mouth as you finish eating the entire pound you’ll be buying, for your companions do so enjoy hearing you define and clarify all things in the world for them endlessly!

Taurus the Bull: Taurus, if you can rouse yourself from the dreams of the nice-looking girl or guy that is across the room, take your dreamy eyes right to the cheese store and place them on that traditional 40 pound cylinder of Cheddar. This sturdy, solidly yellow, conventionally pleasurable cheese will calm you down momentarily from the seemingly endless lust for love that fills you. . .and the nice huge 40 pound size of the entire cheese will satisfy your urge for stability and freedom from worry.

Gemini the Twins: Ah, twisted little Gemini! How confused can you get with all the options out there?! Stand still for just a moment and stare into the sky. Can’t you see it? Can’t you just see what the stars are telling you? With your vivid imagination, I am just so sure that you can, sweetie. “Quark, quark!” they are crying. Yes, you do hear them, don’t you? So do go straight to the store and grab a container of Quark and chow down. Little bites, please, now. The gentle softness of intelligence that Quark holds does so much to make your own intelligence glow!

Cancer the Crab: This week you can prove to all your sensitivity and probity, Cancer. And at the same time show them all how very different you are from them all, all those poseurs. Gaperon is your recommendation for this weeks taste. Just hold your breath as you bite into the garlic imbued savor, and remember what is was like, on the bottom of the sea whence you came from in ancient times.

Leo the Lion: Stop brushing your hair for a moment, please. No, turn this way and take that eye off the mirror, Leo, for I have the perfect, I mean perfect, just as you like it, cheese for you. Cornish Yarg. You do like the way it sounds, don’t you! Yarg. Yarg. Ah, who else would be so quietly brave as to dive into a bit of nettle-covered Yarg but you, Leo! Show your friends truly what a leader you are!

Virgo the Virgin: Celestial rumor has it that you are not easily pleased, dear Virgo. Whatever is presented to you must not be too sharp, too soft, too hard, too wet, too dry, too crunchy nor too out-of-date. A cheese with a style is the cheese for you, and we will attempt to assure that it will not offend. For you sure can go on forever, complaining about things. Taleggio. Beautiful (and rich! Rich! A bonus for you!) Taleggio will surely calm your nerves and settle things down for a moment or two. Do try it!

Libra the Scales: Please stop smiling for a moment, Libra. I haven’t even said anything yet and there you are with that silly grin on your face that you think will charm me. And try to sit up rather than lazing on the couch in that lazy way. Are you ready? Explorateur, darling.

Need I say more? Venus Rules.

Scorpio the Scorpion: Your intellectual demands require a special sort of cheese, Scorpio. One that is as different and individual in its own way as you are. Sexy Sapsago is the one. If you can find someone, anyone, to share this cheese with you, you have found a true friend and perhaps a love. Try not to be too critical of them if they faint upon the first bite. Nothing but a Scorpio’s intensity could melt this cheese.

Sagittarius the Archer: Happy Sagittarius, here is the cheese that will make you stop talking for a minute! Reblochon. Find a friend or two or twenty, call them all up and share it! The party has begun, and you are the star, for sensual Reblochon is by your side!

Capricorn the Goat: Contemptuous you may be of all earthy things, Capricorn, as you work conscientiously toward the higher things of life.

It is good to remember that even the sturdy goat needs to be nurtured on its steady path up the mountain. I advise Vacherin Mont d’Or. Full of a quiet beauty that will beckon you closer, the herby taste will remind you of your original home on the hills between the high fir trees. Keep a stiff upper lip, Capricorn, and do give it a try!

Aquarius the Water Bearer: Who cares if it sounds weird, right Aquarius? Who cares if nobody else wants to try it? You know what you want, and you don’t give a damn if it sounds like a water cooler bubbling in distress. Gubeen is the cheese for you. Gubeen. Say it loud and say it proud! Damn right, both you and your cheese are full of character!

Pisces the Fish: Pisces. Pisces, I am calling you! PISCES! Stop dreaming and listen for a minute here. You will be hungry soon. You will be hungry for something sweet, something salty, something pleasant and something everything. Try to find your way out of the house and get over to the cheese shop. Write down this word before you go, so you will not forget: Gjetost. It can only make you that much sweeter than you already are. Try it.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

That is it for this weeks tastes. Remember, when your cheese fits your stars, the stars shine round you. Enjoy! Enjoy!

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There are still some fermented milk curds lounging around on my brain, Maggie.

Hope you don't mind my trying to rid myself of them. . .here's another cheesey story.

Despatch from the Front

It wasn’t all that long ago that this began, but nevertheless I have a sure sense that the end is near. It’s my impassioned hope that this quickly told story will reach your ears, so that someone will know the truth, and remember me, should the worst really happen.

The first thing that hit my consciousness was how very dark it was. Impenetrable darkness surrounded me, a darkness that was like nothing I had ever experienced. As my mind tried to grasp what was happening, suddenly I felt that there were others like me near, everywhere in the solid midnight blackness. Yet I could hear nothing. It was just a feeling of being with others that were the same as me, all of us floating in a vague and quiet fearful unknowing.

In a quick movement, the pressure began to move us all forward, slowly, from behind us. It began to build. It pushed against the darkness like a wind from the north, tossing us forward, tumbling us together in a gathering force of confusion and panic. All was still quiet, though. There was no way of understanding at all what this was that had reached into the inky reality to throw us haphazardly and fearfully towards an unknown destiny.

In the next moment, it seemed like a huge hand had reached to squeeze the air and life from me. For a split second there was a compression of everything I knew, and then an explosion.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Where I had landed I did not know. It was bright, brighter than any sun one could imagine. It was chill as ice. There was still no hint, no clue of what was going on. I could not see. . .the world was a blank to me but for these impressions. Still, it felt as if I was not alone. . .but that there were many others like me very close. A tossing around began again. We were being transported somewhere. With a final sense of dizziness, we were then thrown down a tunnel into a grey cave with corners hard as metal.

Something entered the cave, moving among us with a sure intent. It felt like a chemical weapon of some sort. I gasped, and felt myself changing, altering, becoming something completely different than myself. I fought, but to no avail. A firm, solid angry pressure then came down upon me, and now I feel the end is near. Remember me with this tale, please. . .and let others know. I was milk. Now, I fear. . that I will be cheese.

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