I am addicted. Not to anything as commonplace as cocaine or Facebook. My problem is cheese. It is a life-long problem and, I have to admit, not one I want to resolve. If I think of the edible pleasures in life – chocolate, wine, fresh bread – I could give any of them up before I could abandon cheese. A fridge devoid of cheese sends me into a panic.
I’m aware, of course, of the dangers: high cholesterol, many calories. So I suffer low fat cream cheese, even like it. But there have to be treats. Proper, strong cheddar that makes your mouth tingle; creamy, unctuous blue whose taste lingers long after it has been swallowed; aged Red Leicester that fills your mouth with flavour. I could go on like a magazine article.
Actually, that not far from the truth. I recently pitched an article to ‘Berkshire Life’ on local cheeses and had it accepted for the December issue. A special cheeseboard and Christmas go together. It was an excellent idea for a cheese addict – not only did I visit several artisan cheesemakers and learn about their processes, I met some fascinating people and tasted some delicious cheese. I came away with free samples! My husband who once claimed, many years ago, he didn’t eat cheese, came along as an enthusiastic photographer (and fellow taster – I think the tastings persuaded him into photography!)
Cheese attracts interesting and varied folk. I interviewed an ex-microbiologist (good background for cheese-making) and a Baron, a guy whose distant ancestor was a general in Napoleon’s army. For many artisan cheese makers, it’s a second career – one that seems to be as addictive as eating it is for me. They all search for the next refinement in taste whether it is a rival for stilton or an exotic truffle-flavoured creamy white cheese using cows’ or sheep’s milk. I was happy to assess their efforts.
I shall have to stop torturing myself – writing about cheese is not enough. I can feel the call of the fridge. Now what will it be? A piece of Barkham Blue? A nugget of mature cheddar? I salivate at the thought….