One learns lots of new things when traveling, that’s half the reason one travels. These things are more drastically noticed & re-noticed, then drastically brought to ones attention with the need of very thorough explanation when noticed through the eyes of a five and eight year old.
For example, not stocked in large or any quantity on the shelves of a French grocery store are; Lucky charms, Kraft dinner or peanut butter. They simply don’t exist or are extremely rare.
Also, that the inner city playground of a school that is no bigger then 500 feet by 500 feet does not include; monkey bars, swings or even grass. Unlike a previous school that was basically an entire football field of slides, swings and natural ground.
These were all things everyone could see and eventually wrap there minds around with some heavy adjustment & disappointment.
The easy route to dining pleasure with kids is typically pizza. This however was quickly squashed when the pizza arrived out of the oven without a spec of melty orange cheese on top.
As a five year old you know you like pizza. Basically you only like cheese pizza and will occasionally eat a bit of ham with it just so your allowed to eat two more pieces of cheese pizza. Thou never in your life have you not have the option of getting orange cheese on your pizza, white cheese is fine, it just needs to mixed with orange cheese.
This is much like your other staple diet, Kraft Dinner.
Thanks America, now I have to un-tell your culinary Santa Clause lie.
ME: “So the thing is, that they use a synthetic dye to make your KD florescent orange & here in France they prefer to use natural cheese as an ingredient.”
Yeah right, starving five and eight year old looking for comfort foods in a crazy new country doesn’t really care.
The reality is cheese is more likely to come in blue, green or white. Not florescent friggin orange!
Originally 17th century cheese makers started to add marigold, saffron or things like carrot juice to make this delightful orange color & thus artificially inflating the value of the cheese. Later turning to the annatto seed, a process that the lie makers at Kraft Dinner are now being forced to use while synthetic dyes are being phased out.
Lets get back to my cheese interests.
I’m basically at the same crossroads of the kids thou on a more thirty-something level as I we walk past my first French Fromagerie.
Like a lazy eye slowly not letting you out of its sight I am being lazy eyed right back by a series of fuzzy green cheeses.
I’m not talking like that little bit of cheese you forgot about in your car for three months that has some mould on it. I’m talking carefully designed pyramids, logs and mini cupcake looking cheeses completely encased in what looks to be a well groomed body of green fuzz.
You know when you walk by a jewellery shop and see the exterior showcase of a diamond necklace on display. Except this time it’s cheese. Beautiful, enticing, repulsive, moulding cheese.
I stare through the window at it. It stares back at me.
I wonder why it looks like that and is still for sale.
It wonders why I’m blocking it’s beauty.
I think this is maybe a one off cheese display & continue on with my little tourist life.
Then I start to notice mouldy cheese popping up everywhere. Little bake shops, fromageries & even in commercial packaging at the grocery store.
And so begins my uneducated quest to eat the mouldy green cheese.
In week one I basically tried any known to me cheeses I could get me hands on.
Using a number of hand movements and a caveman’s comprehension of the French language, some ten minutes later I managed to get some Chevere (goats cheese) from the clerk in the deli to take home.
No one in the house was interested in my offer to share.
By week two, thinking I’m a superstar for wanting to go to the birthplace of blue cheese at the Roqufort Blue Cheese Caves. I get everyone to sacrifice a day to travel to the countryside, walk under ground in the penicillin lined walls and watch a cave movie all so I could try Roqufort Blue Cheese in it’s birthplace.
(More on that in another post.)
For me next stop I sample a few other blue cheese varieties at a local fromagerie. Each time I’m surprised I actually like all of these and am gaining momentum to possibly go for the fuzzy green.
By week three I’m still asking anyone who knows a bit of English about how safe it is to eat fuzzy cheese, how they eat it, and if they know people that have eatin it.
One rushed afternoon we break all the rules of trying new things & opt for one of the items that’s been sitting under a heat lamp all day and purchase it just before closing.
It’s a cheese mix with broccoli in the middle.
It tastes good and is surprisingly filling. In fact at dinner a few hours later Keli and I both are feeling more full then hungry.
By 7pm I’m on the couch. By 7:30pm I’m in bed. By 9:30pm I’m on the toilet. By 2am I have my face deep in a bucket.
Keli gets off with a upset stomach.
By week four I’d been in and out of every fromagerie in the central city and had a bit of one on one time with a number of green cheeses in commercial packaging at grocery stores. Thou I still hadn’t put the penicillin past my lips.
By the last day, I’d run completely out of time to try the fuzzy green cheese and decide to go for a run with Keli around the outskirts of the city.
Things we’re looking good. I basically had a bottomless supply of excuses as to why I hadn’t been able to try the cheese. Mainly as Keli and the kids weren’t into it. I could now easily blame them for not wanting to try it too & site the idea I didn’t want to waste any money
Later on that last day we’re jogging through the grasses and past a new neighbourhood. We spot a sort of makeshift food market with food trucks and fresh baking and swing by for a look. There is a massive pan with an abundance of fresh Spanish cuisine being prepared. Beside him is an Italian with all sorts of fresh made pasta. Across from him the French baker with an assortment of fresh goods. And it seemed the Fromage gods were watching out for me. At the end of the line sits a Cheese truck.
His showcase item, a 200 gram log of well aged fuzzy green goats cheese.
I ask him questions; he laughs & explains the whole process from the milking of the goat to the four months of letting it fuzz.
Next I ask about the price.
It’s written on the cheese.
I ask what it goes best with.
He says bread.
I get nervous and start talking fast.
I ask if he’ll eat it with me.
He doesn’t understand me and says yes.
I buy it and offer him a bite.
He laughs and says no.
I shoulda talked slower.
He says ok, looks at me like it’s my first beer and I’m afraid of getting drunk.
He goes first.
I get Keli to take twenty-five photos and a video.
It’s the eleventh hour, I bought the round and I’m still stalling.
It’s a round log about 2” wide, ¼” of that is mould.
I put it in my mouth and expect to gag. It feels like eating the outside of a soft kiwi, a thick soft kiwi.
It’s delicious, weird, thou delicious.
I eat two more bites.
The man suggests I let it sit out for an hour, much like a good red wine, then eat it.
I put it in my backpack and head home. An hour later when I arrive, I open my backpack. It smells like every hockey bag in North America combined.
At dinner I tell the kids I have a surprise.
I let the five year old unwrap it like a present.
No one at the dinner table thinks I’m funny.
It took me 32 days and some extreme stalling to get the fuzzy green cheese in my mouth. It was fantastic.
I wonder what else I’ve been missing in my life…