I like to keep people up to snuff on the romantic wanderings of my life. After all, I have an image to maintain; that of the care free rambler, wending my way down cobblestone side streets and gazing with wonderment at rare architectural monuments and sidewalk daisies alike. The true caption of me, standing hungry, angry and wet in an insipid puddle, might disturb my rather sensitive readers. And so, with nothing in mind but your welfare, we skip ahead and pick up my story again after tea and pastries..Allow me to interrupt myself for a moment here, to say that German bakeries mystify me in their insistence on serving single portion pastries large enough to fuel a small army of Super Troopers! But I digress…Once again I am standing in a wet puddle, but this time I’m heavily fortified and feeling the warm glow of the over-fed.
For those of you who thought it was the haunting call of the lonely potato field that enticed me to this country, you should know the truth. It was the pungent smell of love. The soft give of fresh sheep cheese, the unnaturally hard and dry crumble of a well aged water buffalo cheese, and the rubbery soft texture of some interpretative Dutch experiment. Eating cheese is akin to feeding the poet inside. There’s a wholeness about it that is at once both grounding and euphoric, like a big smelly hug.
We set forth bravely in search of our last destination. The cheese shop! A few unsuccessful detours into shoe stores, and I grew frustrated with the map and gave it to my Companion in Tea. Despite the map, (which, I’ll swear on my wooden arm was wrong) she lead us in a promising direction. Suddenly I stopped, lifted my nose delicately into the troposphere and sniffed. “I smell cheese!” I explained to my quizzical Companion in Tea. I took over from the deluded map and brought us safely to our destination. And oh la! But it was worth the rain. It was with trembling heart and knocking knees that I finally selected a cheese for myself. Small, just half of a round the size of my palm, with a wrinkly yellow rind like the face of a newborn babe. Creamy and succulent under the surface, with a center that makes a woman wonder if it’s possible to choke on velvet.