Columnist Caitlin Weigel suggests where to go when in need of cheese.
LONDON – As you’ve probably noticed, I spend a lot of time fawning over foodstuffs. It seems every experience I’ve had abroad in some way relates back to food and my – possibly unhealthy – love affair with edibles.
While my heart does flutter for falafel, and I have a history of swooning over stroganoff, there is one particular food that will always be my true love. One food, that consistently makes me melt. One food, that if, in the future, when society is more open-minded and the right legislation is passed, I would happily marry.
That food is cheese.
If I had to choose between giving up Christmas or giving up cheese, I would send Santa packing in a heartbeat. While other girls daydream about men with chiseled jaws and emo vampires, my imaginings linger on thoughts of warm Brie topped with raspberry jam. The only hunk on my mind is a hunk of blue cheese. I could write haikus honoring havarti, couplets commending cheddar and limericks about my love of Limburger. So serious is my obsession that it’s not an uncommon occurrence for me to blow all my grocery money in the dairy section.
Knowing my status as a cheese fiend, you can only imagine my joy when I visited Paris. The French are known for many things – mimes, that tower thing, art, crusty bread, striped shirts, general rudeness – but the only one that mattered to me was their reputation as cheese heaven.
Despite being too stingy to spend three euros on the metro, I happily doled out wads of cash in exchange for Reblochon, Roquefort and Camembert. I pressed my face to the window of every fromagerie I passed, before being dramatically torn away by my sane travel partner who realized my cheese lust needed to be put to an end.
My favorite cheese of the trip was, hands down, the goat cheese. Several meals we ordered came with a side of glorious toasted bread topped with a slice of goat cheese. That tangy soft cheese that melts in your mouth is the stuff of dreams. As soon as I finished my own, I would eagerly look to my roommate, hoping beyond hope that today was the day she decided to renounce all dairy products or came down with a case of lactose intolerance. No such luck.
If you’re interested in fostering your own cheese addiction, I highly recommend starting at Di Bruno Brothers, Philadelphia’s cheese mecca. With locations on 18th and Chestnut streets in Center City and at Ninth and Montrose streets in the Italian Market, it’s easy to swing by and score your fix of Munster or Gouda. The employees are helpful, too. They all seem to have graduated from some Holy College of Cheese and will gladly school you in the vast choices available. One of them at the South Philly location even has cheese tattoos – now that’s dedication to the cult of cheese.
If you’re feeling especially broke, it’s still worth swinging by for the abundance of free samples.
For more info, check out Philly-based blog “Madame Fromage,” which details the joys of cheese and gives serving suggestions. And just for kicks, do yourself a favor and head to cheesepeople.tumblr.com. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it never disappoints. Goudacris and Brieonyce will always be hilarious.
I hope your cheese addiction flourishes, and I apologize in advance for when you spend your book money on aged parmesan and Wensleydale with cranberry.
Caitlin Weigel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.