Monday, November 10, 2008

Say Cheese

Whenever I travel I like to explore not only the various towns, but also the food. I find it fascinating to wander through village markets and check out the new tastes and smells. My dad lives in Provence, which is home to some of the most delicious food in the world. In any tiny town that has a market day, you will find the loveliest local cheeses, produce and charcutrie.

These gorgeous veggies were in his local supermarket in Lorgues.

Every time I visit my dad, I love to sample the cheese. Last time I came I barely fit into my pants by the end of the trip. I find my father's illness stressful, so who could deny oneself a little comfort in the way of tangy, stinky or creamy cheese? My sister came along on this trip and is as eager as I am to taste as many different kinds of cheese as I am.

Here is a sampling of cheeses we bought today.

The plate on the left:
The bright orange cheese is a mimolette extra vieille. The extra vielle means that it was aged an extra long amount of time. 18 months in this case. I think this cheese was the hardest for us to describe. It looks like a cheddar, but doesn't taste like one at all. It was a hard cheese, but wasn't crumbly or hard. I said elastic and Lisa said waxy. Neither description sounds particularly appealing though. Here's a more professional description. The next photo is a close-up of the rind of this cheese.
The creamy white cheese is a Tomme de chevre, which is a goat cheese. It was the most creamy decadent cheese we bought. And when I say creamy, it wasn't bland. Absolutely delicious! I searched for a good description from the pros on this cheese and didn't find any that resembled this little circle of heaven.

The plate on the right:
The large cheese on the bottom is a brie according to my stepmother. It is a perfectly good cheese. Seems a little sweeter and milder than bries I've had in the states.
The cheese to the left and above is a Ecorce de sapin, which is a triple cream cheese from the Franch-Comté region. It is wrapped in spruce bark, which imparts a subtle piney flavor to it. Sounds weird, but is delicious!
The cheese on the top is a Saint-Félicien Moulé å la louche. It's a stinky cow's milk cheese. It is very soft and drips off your knife when you bring it up to your bread. Yum.

My friend just sent me the funniest quote about the French and cheese:
"France is a country that understands…the range of smells that makes life interesting includes some rather severe ones…When they smell [Soumantrain, a particularly pungent cheese], Americans think 'Good God!' The Japanese think, 'I must now commit suicide.' The French think 'Where's the bread?'" - Luca Turin

Oh, and did I mention that they have zillions of olives here. Growing in my dad's yard, in fields, and on random trees along the street. Don't try and eat one from the tree unless you want your mouth to be stuck in a permanent pucker. It's a joke the locals play on olive-loving tourists. These guys need to be cured or pressed to be edible.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cautiously Optimistic

I am so hopeful listening to various reports that Obama will win the election. I keep thinking about the world series a bunch of years ago when the Yankees were losing to the Red Sox. At a certain point the Red Sox started to paint their field (the game was at Yankee stadium) with the words World Champions. They lost. Oops. I can wait to do my victory dance.