Curd Quips: Color me a cheesemonger

 

Do you remember the first time that you opened a new box of 24 crayons as a kid? Does the thought of it now bring back some happy emotions?   For me, opening a box of crayons still has that moment of amazement.  I am suspecting that it’s the wonder of seeing a veritable field of plenty and possibility that captivates the imagination.

To look at the box you could judge, as they say, “by the cover” and quickly pass the crayons by. Yes, the signature crayon cardboard box is a bright and contrasted colorful standout on a shelf, but ultimately uninteresting – about the equivalent interest of an empty shoebox.  Then there’s the weight of the box.

The weight of the box is a “tell” of sorts that (to me) creates mixed signals in your senses.  Why is this box so heavy (dense) as compared to the lighter outside appearance?

It’s not until you lift the lid that the magic begins and the weight of possibility starts to unfold.  Where to begin?  If the aroma of clean wax that’s been sealed up waiting for you does not touch your nostrils first, then it’s the burst of colors.  More still are the visual draw of the perfect height alignment of crayons in staggered rows. Or the clean, die-cut scallop edge of cardboard that revealing the crayons matching paper wrappers and, on occasion, the names to go with them. To me, there’s a lot going on there.

Honestly, receiving cheese is much the same.  Each new cheese arrival has a sense of anticipation about it. How will this compare to the last one? Is this wheel more or less ripe? Oh – look at these cheese stickers, they are way cool!  And the aromas -opening up boxes of cheese is among the best in the world. Then again, I have been called a “Cheese Liberal.” Checking in each cheese is a bevy of pleasurable sensations that never gets old.

While these sensations don’t get old, you do (if you are a cheese liberal) want more.  I have long listened (wistfully) to the challenges of large cheese shops that order cheeses by the palette (50+ wheels) everyday. Now, I have been to cheese cellars and cheese caves, but not been on the receiving end of that much cheese at once. I am imagining the sensation of opening that much cheese being like, I don’t know, maybe a kid finding and opening a single box of 500 crayons at the same time.

Along the same lines, I was recently asked to imagine what three tractor-trailers filled with 16,000+ pounds of cheese might be like.  Um, yes – I’m in.  To make it more interesting, distribute that volume out over 1,200 to 1,400 varieties of cheese. Can you imagine that?   For some (perhaps crazy) reason I think that I can. In fact, exactly that much cheese at one place and time comes together for the American Cheese Society’s annual judging and conference.

The coolest part of this year’s conference, in my mind anyway, is that I was asked to serve as Cheese Sale Lead.  What’s that you ask?  Like the kid getting a box of 500 crayons.  I will be the lead Cheesemonger for the cheese sale and get to “play” with 10,000 pounds of cheese.  I am getting giddy with excitement.