For lunch yesterday I treated myself to some mature goat's cheese on pumpkin seed and oat Ryvita. Cheese used to be to me what mashed potato was to Nora Ephron. Note the term 'used', as now it is a rare treat, a luxury, to curb a craving, or eaten from necessity because it features heavily in all vegetarian options on the menu. This isn't America where you can say to the server: Hold the cheese, because in the UK (or is it just small villages in Surrey?) there is a tendency for cheese to be the main source of veggie protein in mainstream restaurant dishes, and there's no offered extras or 'instead ofs'. In most cases that cheese is melted or embedded in a pre-made salad, sandwich or burger. And all you would be left with is very plain fare at the same exorbitant cost.
it was cheddar, then mozzarella; goat's cheese then feta, until
halloumi burst on the scene. The cheese world shaken by this invasion
as everyone vied to do something with it. But unlike so many I for
one was not bowled over. Its flavour, for me, too mild and its
texture too greasy. Any melted cheese turns my stomach having seen
what it does to your insides. Bacon sits, melted fat clings, both
move sluggishly through your digestive system.
occasionally that stored away memory of cheese and...crackers,
bread, pasta, potato kicks in, a sharp pang of 'I want it. Now'.
Mostly I resist, the 'ghost' taste enough to dispel the sudden
yearning, and cave just once a year, discounting the dining-out where
I've had no choice but to eat it in whatever format it comes.
be a martyr? Why impose this dietary rule? Vegetarians eat cheese
after all. Or there's dairy-free, which coincidentally I don't get
the point of. It's almost as good as the real thing, but it's not the
REAL THING. It's overly processed, indigestible. It's like opting for
products that claim to be low in sugar or low in fat, you're often
better off going for the 'full' version. In moderation, of course.
never a moderate eater of cheese. That was the problem, and when I
became a veggie at the ripe age of 13, the habit escalated. The
compulsion to consume more than I reasonably should took over. My
palms clammy, my fingers twitching like a narcotic addict. And like
all addictions, cheese, in the end, had the last laugh. A fr-enemy.
Something I craved, but couldn't have because the feel-good surge was
short-lived compared to the longer-felt effects. Some people have
difficulty tolerating dairy sugars and fats, and unfortunately I
became one of them. Goodbye beloved cheese. Your richness is too much
for me, farewell.
I can treat but not indulge. The side-effects have lessened and so
has its desire. The pleasure much, much fainter, my senses not driven
mad as they once were.
very few, although I now do have to include yesterday.
in to my body's demands, thinking where's the harm? I am more
disciplined these days. That was my first error of judgement. But
that mistake was realised later. Much later when the delicacy was
gone after one sitting.
mature goat's cheddar had been procured three days before from a deli
counter; a small weighed portion, enough for possibly two lunches, or
one lunch and the rest grated as a topping for dinner. Unable to bear
the torment any longer, I went about the making of my lunch almost
religiously. The plastic wrapper and part of the inedible rind
removed in a respectful silence, the first slice cut with a trembling
hand. Oh Lord, bless the bounty I'm about to receive. That first
slice, that first taste proved fatal. The undoing of me. My knife
strokes gathered speed and surety as I covered three rectangles of
Ryvita, my fingers quick to pick up crumbs and pop them in my waiting
mouth. Done, there was only a small chunk left which was obviously
too spare for another lunch and too lean to grate. For a second, if
that, I paused, then committed myself to the act: finishing it in its