Among our Christmas gifts today was a lovely wheel of 3-year-old Tillamook cheddar cheese. This cheese will be crumbly and sharp, no doubt delicious. Cheese is one of my favorite foods. (However, I do not care for moldy cheeses.) Our oldest son, who now lives in San Francisco enjoys trips to the Rainbow Grocery, a natural-foods heaven in his neighborhood. Since he discovered their cheese counter, he comes home bearing cheesy gifts. He likes cheeses with odd names like Welsh Dragon, Stinking Bishop, or Capricious Goat.
Cheese is a product of obscure origins. There exist ancient Egyptian tomb murals depicting cheese making from 2000 BCE. Odysseus found cheeses in the cave of Cyclops, and Roman legionnaires carried firm molded cheeses among their rations. Cheese must have originated soon after the domestication of hoofed animals.
Years ago Tim and I stayed in a bed and breakfast in Ireland known for its fancy dinners (required of guests). The dinners unfortunately did not commence until 10 o'clock. Leisurely course after course was served, as we tourists began tipping in our chairs from exhaustion. As we ate our desserts, we all felt we were minutes from our beds. Then our hostess announced happily, "And now, the cheese course!" She produced an enormous tray laden with local cheeses in little wooden boxes, crocks and other authentic-looking containers. I am sure they were a gourmet's delight, but we were far too stuffed and tired to take advantage of them. A pity! It was a blessing scorned.
For me, there is little more satisfying than good bread, with cheese and fruit.