Cheese. Let's talk. Tonight, I tried Teleggio cheese. It took a minute, maybe three, to get past the smell and actually try it! YUCK! Then I put some on a cracker. YUM! Well, not too shabby, and enjoyable. But...to satisfy my cheese urge, I turned to Delice de Bourgogne. Oh so cream and rich! Do I like cheese? Yes, but I'm still in the testing phase of trying REAL cheeses! I didn't care for it much as a child. Then again, I didn't quite know what it was. It came in a government box marked CHEESE, and looked like a brick. It was sort of like a bright yellow Jello and fun to poke with my finger. Then there were the slices of yellow cheese wrapped in plastic. Nah... I smelled what was called "Parmesan" at a pizza place and gagged. Yuck! Then there was mozzarella. I decided it was the only tolerable cheese of all the ones I had been introduced to, but even that was iffy. Only certain ones tasted okay. I discovered that one brand of string cheese, labeled Mozzarella, tasted good. The yellower the color, the nastier it tasted. Then there was the horrible powder stuff that came with boxes of noodles, that magically turned into what they call "cheese" when you add milk and butter to the cooked noodles. One day, one glorious day, I passed an olive bar and saw some strange, white, soft round things in liquid and it said it was mozzarella. HRM! I tried it and I was in heaven. Thus began my trepid introduction into the world of cheese. I found out that the stuff in the box, the flat squares wrapped in plastic, basically ANYTHING wrapped in plastic at the store, seemed to not really be cheese. I first went for bleu cheese. I'd seen flavored dressings and they didn't taste too bad, but then I discovered it wasn't just a flavor, it was cheese! So I tried it. It was oddly appealing. My next experience was to taste organic cheese, locally made, that had never been touched by plastic. Even the common, cheap stuff was completely delicious and tasted very different from the same types of cheese that were not organic and that had been stored in plastic. A CLUE! The best of cheese can be ruined by storing it certain ways. I'm still on this journey of discovery - one that tells me that cheese is not something you buy stored in shreds in a zippered plastic bag, then slather on top of everything to add color and hide the taste of whatever it is you messed up, though doing this HAS gotten me out of a number of cooking errors. It seems that most people will forgive a variety of cooking sins if you baptize the food in cheese. My problem is that I can't afford my taste palate. I walk past the bagged stuff they call shredded cheese and shudder, then I walk back and toss some in the cart. I will still buy a block of "cheddar" and use it in cooking or even put some on a cracker. But my true love for cheese? It is expressed in the precious, tiny little bits that come home with me from the beautiful, rare, full service, and ONLY store that I know of in this area that dedicates itself to selling quality organics. It may cost a zillion dollars a pound, and that's why my little 2 ounce packets are protected as if they contained gold. Little bits of goodness, sometimes splurged to become 6 ounces. I ride home in the car with a smile, looking forward to unwrapping that paper or cloth and seeing that little bit of tasty goodness, sometimes protected by a dusting of ash or a bit of rind covering that gooey, melty, deliciousness. I'm getting a bit more brave as time goes on. I'm learning to read about the cheese before I try it. Somehow, knowing where it comes from and how it was made can make a world of difference when it comes to whether I appreciate it or spit it out. When I took that first taste of Taleggio, I never thought I'd try it again, but I'd made the mistake of not reading about it first. After I read about it and then tried it on a cracker, I had the images in my mind of how it was made, of the care and knowledge that went into making it, of just how neat it is to sit here in this weird little state and still be able to have this at my fingertips. Now I can appreciate it. What will I try next? I don't know. I'm finding that the harder cheeses are less to my liking. I'm finding that smell can have little to do with the taste, which is very odd since smell and taste work together so much in our perceptions. It's definitely an interesting journey. If you have your own cheesy story, I'd sure love to hear it!