Now this is a topic close to everyone’s heart.
So to set the context, most people have had the experience when travelling from London to Venice on the Orient Express: a moment of pure horror when you realise you have committed the ultimate faux pas.
Picture it, you are in the dining car of the Venice-Simplon with your French lover and you energetically lob a bit of Brie off to lather all over your baguette. Only to glance across the candlelit table and see an expression of horror on the beautiful face of said lover.
Followed by a “sacre bleu, you sauvage” and a quick slap across your visog with the other person’s lace glove so dislocating one’s pince-nez. Thus causing general discomfort and a majeur “moment de solitude”.
And one has no choice but to fold one’s white linen napkin, and say “what-ho, time to scarper gibbety hoo”.
Well if this has happened to you and you are still mystified as to why, then I can tell you. It was all because you cut your cheese wrong.
Nah I’m exaggerating and I’m definitely reading too much Jeeves and Wooster and/or Agatha Christie.
Anyhoo, I learnt a while back that there is a polite way to cut cheese. French people do it naturally of course (sigh). The trick is to cut off the cheese in such a way that you don’t leave a big crust for the next person. So that they don’t spend an unreasonable amount of time shaving off a crumbly mouldy crust in order to have a decent slice of cheese.
So its all about courteous geometry. Echoes of the Eiffel tower principle in fact.
Easy ! I hear you say.
Merde! Say I.
I agree that the principle is straightforward and makes sense. However cheese in France comes in all shapes and forms and changes when it ages (as with many things in life). So after a wee while it melts everywhere or grows a second skin or just gets really smelly.
The only thing it doesn’t do is crawl out of the cheese box.
Despite of or rather because of this bacteria plus time process, the cheese gets more delicious as time goes by. A bit like me. In terms of beauty. Probably. No, all wrong, don’t go there.
Please note cheese on top right which is just starting to bulge and will soon splurge out to its full glory. Whereupon there will be fights in our house about who gets to eat it.
So all the different shapes and sizes and crusts and icky feel make the cutting process a bit difficult in the heat of the moment especially if one is chatting to other people or otherwise occupied. But never fear I have created this trusty tutorial to take you through it like a hot knife through butter.
(french friends prier de ne pas rigoler at himself explaining to me for the fiftieth time how to cut cheese)
And if you think you can get over the problem by not eating the cheese forget it. It is impossible. If you are at someone’s house and you have had the main meal an hour ago and dessert is in another hour, and everybody else is going into cheese ecstasy around you – you will end up nibbling on some cheese. Unless you have a general hatred of cheese or are allergic of course. I resisted pretty well for a few years but I remember to this day one of my friends saying “ah g’wan, don’t smell it, put it on a wee bit of bread and slug a bit of wine at the same time…” Yes she did a Mrs Doyle on me. I was like this is delicious, what’s that other one over there!! And that was it, I was a goner. And now I eye mould on cheese and think “yum”!
For the grand finale, my best cheesy grin!!