I found her – my spirit cheese.
There have been many spirit-things in my life; the inevitable spirit-animal game of everyone’s childhoods (I still am unsure of this one – I’ve gotten otter, fox, owl, eagle…), the funny what-is-your-spirit-vegetable game played with my crunchier friends, and I know, without a doubt in my mind, that my spirit-house is a roundhouse built of wood and straw hay bales. But these have been child’s play, my friends. Pale imitations of the true connection between a girl and the most important of spirit objects – CHEESE.
Since I’ve been in France (this is actually my fifth week!), I’ve tried a lot of cheese. As soon as my host family learned that I could eat raw milk cheese, I was whisked away to a local fromagerie to choose from a gleaming glass case of over a hundred different cheeses. I’ve sampled the soft and the hard, the creamy and the dry, the mild and the strong. I’ve had cheese from cows, sheep, and goats. I’ve cheerfully munched moldy crusts, peeled away actual leaves from a little round of chevre, and been bowled over by a truly magnificent (and utterly stinky) Roquefort, struck through with blue and green veins.
But from the beginning, I’ve noticed that I’ve had a predisposition towards the chevre fromage, or cheese made of goat’s milk. This perhaps goes back to last summer, when I was living in New York City, and began buying a very hard, very dry goat’s cheese called Manchester at my local green market. I would buy tiny little chunks, and savor them with an almost past-ripe peach, luxuriating in the salty, goat-y taste. I like cow’s cheese, really, especially the harder ones. But there is something about that chevre…
It would be nearly impossible to count how many cheeses I have tried, and even harder to pinpoint where they were bought (we’ve been visiting a new Fromagerie each week, and that’s without taking into account the cheese we buy at the Marche each weekend), but I think I can safely say, when it comes to my beloved goat, that I’ve tried six different chevre fromages. I have loved them all, and been the principal consumer of them in the household (my host mother loves strong sheep and cow tomes, and my host father is pre-disposed to creamy cow’s milk cheese). But this last one….
It’s the one. It’s the spirit cheese.
It’s the one I feel actual sadness for when it’s wrapped back up in its paper. It’s the one where I take just….one….more….slice….six times over. This cheese has a nice, moldy, dry crust, but a piquant, creamy, melt away into bliss center. I like to take a few slices with a perfect Normandy pear, a handful of roasted cashews, and I finish the whole thing with a single square of dark chocolate.
Bliss, I tell you. Bliss.