"Show me something...interesting."
All of this is accompanied by Jazzercising brow wiggles, dramatic eye bugging, and a whole lotta nudge-nudge-wink-winking. "Crap -- did someone write an article about illegal cheeses again?" a fellow cheesemonger mutters to me. You can count on it.
First of all, I have to say that "illegal" doesn't necessarily mean "better than Jesus." Sure, there are stacks of firm and oozy cheeses we can't get our sweaty little hands on for various and ridiculous FDA regs that have very little to do with safe-guarding public health and more to do with buckshot happy politics, and yes, a lot of them are delicious and different and worth it. However, it is patently ridiculous to elevate all those cheeses to such god-like heights just because they are illegal. For one thing, while you're doing that and snubbing all the legal cheeses in the meantime, man, are you missing out on something.
I'm here to give my professional and overbearing opinion that there are so many amazing legal cheeses out there that you could eat one every day of your life and still not have tasted all of them. And by "every day of your life" I mean until you keel over from acute cholesteroleosis. The cheese in this country has never been tastier, smellier, or fabulouser. My two favorite cheeses at the moment are Morbier and Harmony Blue.
Yeah, yeah, you're all "been there, done that, had it on a dessert plate" with the Morbier but no. Just no. Listen to me, the Morbier we have in is particularly happy Morbier. It's not the sullen summer stuff that gets all sweaty and has the potential to slip you a bitter tongue if you don't watch it. Don't get me wrong, with a nice spicy rosé banged in my glass, I like that Morbier just fine. I just don't like it ALL the time. This current Morbier is sweet and silky and it got me so high, I started forcing it on all my customers. "You want cheddar? No, try this Morbier!" "Chestnut honey? Honey, let me give you some Morbier!" "Cheese to take on the plane? Morbier might stink, but you'll thank me later." "The Slanted Door? Down the hall and to your right." Because some things don't change.
Harmony Blue is a perfectly gorgeous blue cheese made by a Amish Co-Op in Iowa. I'm telling you, those Amish people might drive really slow and not use zippers, but they certainly know their cheese. This cheese is buttery, luscious, and as outstanding crumbled over roasted mushrooms or in soup as it is with nothing else to dress it but your naked taste buds. Give it a lick.
So, please, treat your eyebrows to a sabbatical and stop bugging me about illegal cheeses, because one of these days I'm just going to sell you some perfectly legal and delicious brie that came without a label, because sometimes they come without a label, and you just gotta stop reading into that. And you know what? Unless you are Mr. Cheesetastic, I doubt you'll know the difference.
There's a whole country of cheese out there -- open yourself up to it. I promise you won't go hungry.