Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To brie or not to brie

For some time I have been passing by fancy cheeses that all of a sudden appeared in our local kosher supermarket thinking that I should give them a try. I am fairly adventurous when it comes to food; as long as it's kosher I'll give it a try. Unless it has carrots in it. Or sweet potatoes. Or it's waaay too spicy. On the second thought, I guess I am not that adventurous. But for someone who grew up on meat and potatoes diet, I have come pretty far (read: tofu).

But back to cheeses. A few years back SubHub and I have been talked into buying some blue fancy cheese by the store owner. Once we came home and unpacked our precious (very, very precious might I add) cheese, we ended up both looking at each other and wondering whether we have to eat THAT or eat around it. On the second look, there was not eating around IT. We both concluded that if we had an ear infection, pneumonia, syphilis or any other ailment requiring penicillin, we would be immediately cured upon tasting that cheese. We both bravely took a bite, both spit up in unison and swore off trying food that had the word "blue" in it.

Fast forward a few years, and my adventurous spirit was taking the better of me once again. These fancy cheeses, inconspicuously thrown in between mozzarella and a strange concoction commonly known as American cheese (an oxymoron, really), were calling my name. A few times I reached for them, but the price tag stopped me. Eventually I remembered that upon my untimely (it always is, isn't it?) demise I would be held accountable for every permitted food I could, but haven't tried. Could I possibly go to hell over not trying some stinky cheese? I couldn't think of any other reason that would cause this unfortunate turn of events, and I was not going to let this happen. Next time as I was passing by the cheese section, I decided that while paying kids' tuition is a noble ideal, it is definitely not noble enough to miss out on the wonders of heaven. So I took the plunge and bought brie.

I couldn't wait to open it and give it a try. Once the kids were asleep and the house in reasonable order, I opened the brie. Upon inspecting it and not finding anything blue, I noticed that it had rind. I immediately called my parents for advice and was given their standard response, "Google it." While I was searching for the answer, Mom said that they were told to eat the rind. She eats it, but Dad refuses to. Finally Google confirmed that Mom was right, I hung up, cut myself a wedge and took a bite.

What came next cannot be described in any words normally associated with food. I can assure you that I have never participated in urinotherapy. Nevertheless, I felt absolutely certain that what I had just eaten tasted and smelled like very concentrated urine. Or maybe Windex, mixed with urine. The mushroomy goodness promised company's website was neither mushroomy nor good. The released ammonia was so strong that I felt as if I was punched with it in my nose.

"It's an acquired taste," said Mom. I am persistent, so I tried again and again, with and without rind. The feeling that I was eating urine did not go away with subsequent consumption of rind-surrounded cheese. Without rind, brie tasted like bad cream cheese. SubHub wisely refused to even try.

But I do not give up. Next week, Camembert!


  1. Very funny post!
    But now I'm scared. I bought some goat cheese this week, and now I'm afraid to try it.

  2. I wouldn't worry too much about goat cheese. It is on the salty side, but wonderful in a salad. Unfortunately, it might also be an acquired taste, but for many it is acquired rather easily and painlessly. I LOVE goat cheese.

  3. Are you sure the Brie you purchased was fresh? The rind can be a little bitter, so feel free to cut that off.
    I actually prefer Camembert, which is slightly less mushroomy but really yummy and gooey. (it shouldn't be too runny or else don't eat it)

    Want to be adventurous but still stick to more 'safe' products? Try Syrian cheese (I like the one that's sold in a round, not braided), fresh Mozzarella (braided or herbed) or Kashkaval (a mild sheep milk cheese).

  4. This is my fave goat cheese:

    It's not too salty and tastes great in salads or sandwiches.

  5. Dude, you're such a wuss! And what's wrong with carrots and yams?! I use only yams in dafina.

    In case you forgot, I had some funky stuff for Shavuot.

    btw, we all ate the rind.

  6. LOL - you reminded me of one of Jackie Mason's monologues "you have to develop a taste for it... You develop a taste for your sister-in-law, not cheese!"

  7. 2 cannibals are eating.
    "I hate my mother-in-law"
    "So try the potatoes!"

  8. Moshe, I don't think I am a wuss. I gave both carrots and sweet potatoes their fair chance, but alas - blech. I just don't like them.

    Maidel, I prefer Bulgarian style feta. Not overly salty, good in salads, wonderful with lightly sweetened tea. (It's the Russian thing, you might not understand.)

  9. Maybe they weren't cooked the right way. Did you try baking yams with raisins and cinnamon?


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