Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nothing says "I Love You" Like Smuggled Cheese From the Netherlands

On this rainy and cold Saturday, I'm wistfully remembering the tasty and bold round of gouda that my younger sister had brought back from Amsterdam several weeks ago. It was a whole wheel of cheese a little bigger than my palm, but such pleasures are meant for sharing, and so I passed one small wedge on to The Mixmaster, and my friend, M.
The cheese is from a maker named Henri Willig, and after the last precious morsel of creamy, peppery, milky goodness had disappeared, I googled them, and found that to my dismay, they ship just about everywhere but Canada. If you're in the Canary Islands, or Hong Kong, you can get Willig yumminess, but sadly we go cheese-less. I paired my gouda with PC 7 Grain Original Flat Bread, a quick grocery store buy. The cracker was lightly salted, and went well with the sharp, pepper taste of the pepper gouda.
Ah, the glories of cheese... In Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, one of the most intriguing characters to me is that of Ben Gunn, the hapless marooned British man who hasn't "'spoke with a Christian [for] three years'" (Stevenson 79). And what does he ask for when he meets up with the treasure hunters from England? A "'Christian diet'"; he says "'You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well, many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese" (79). Luckily, the ship's doctor, who is coded in the text as a true gentleman, has a small piece of parmesan in his snuff box, which he gives to Ben Gunn, hoping to save him from the dread fate of "going native" (102). This text, which I'd re-read last fall, highlights the hierarchies of processed versus unprocessed foods, which I've spoken of before. Cheese is civilized and "Christian". Papayas, or even rum (though it is processed, it is linked to the Caribbean), are not. Western society seems to prize food that is removed from it's natural state.
Now to figure out a way to get to Amsterdam to smuggle some Henri Willig cheese back. Not the most likely thing to try to sneak into T.O. from the rather progressive nation...
I'm moving from my beloved St Clair West area to a new neighbourhood. I've been here for over three years and have really come to love the place. If I have time in the middle of all the packing and sorting through stuff, I'm going to try and write a food farewell to this lovely part of town.

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