Sunday, October 6, 2013

Does good French cheese qualify as an addictive substance?

Oh  Brie, where have you been all my life?

Flickr: chez loulou
I grew up in a very cheese-focused household. Even my mother--who hated cooking--used to melt kasseri cheese on a large baking sheet for a quick dinner when my father was away (we would dip Pillsbury crescent rolls in the melted goo). My father ate whole hunks of Munster and blue cheese as snacks. We ate Gorgonzola tossed with olive oil as salad dressing; lumpy blue cheese rather than runny ranch dressing was also often on the menu. I snacked on hunks of pure Provolone. Even grilled cheese required slices of cheese from the deli, never processed cheese. I've never had macaroni and cheese from the Kraft blue box or Cheez Whiz.

I always felt I had 'had' Brie because I saw it served at parties all the time in college.

Recently, I realized that even at said parties, it was always my default impulse to grab the Roquefort or blue, never the Brie.  And then there were my misguided attempts to go vegan, which often caused me to try to eliminate cheese.
 
I recently rectified this error of ignoring Brie almost unconsciously.   Gazing at the cheese section I thought: I haven't had Brie in ages, not since...wait...have I ever really eaten Brie?  Blue cheese, yes.  Gorgonzola, yes.  Mozzarella, yes. All sorts of soft, white cheeses...but Brie?

After my first taste I realized that clearly I had not truly been living until this point, despite being on the earth for 39 years.

The problem with eating Brie for the first time as an adult is all other substances pale in comparison for at least a week.  Hell, a month.

But eating Brie with roasted vegetables as dinner, or Brie on scrambled eggs or Brie with turkey is still a far healthier obsession than my sugar and carbohydrate addictions of my past, misguided youth. Also, with age and wisdom, I am just less inclined to get obsessed with a single food.

All joking aside, whenever someone insists that it is due to 'one food' that they made a life major change (either gaining or losing weight, moving to France, going Paleo or organic), I can't shake my head because I do know someone who insisted that was the case.

A friend of mine E-- was a student at Rutgers. Other than being a Classics major (which is kind of weird, admittedly), E-- was one of the most normal people I knew. Not too tall, not too short. Not too fat, not too thin.  A moderate amount of makeup, but could go without wearing it and not regard the experience as traumatic. Went home every few weeks but lived on-campus.  Had a nice, normal boyfriend she saw frequently but wasn't joined at the hip with at all times.

So of course Rutgers housing paired her with someone completely insane as a roommate.

Her roommate begin the year a fragile, doll-like blonde creature with tight blonde permed ringlets who hung posters of her high school career as a cheerleader on the walls. The Doll bought a scale with her so she could check her weight every morning.  Instead of dining in the Rutgers cafeteria, she bought cans of tuna in water and fat free crackers to eat in her room, alone. She never drank or went out and was always at the gym, on the StairMaster.  (This was the 90s). 

My friend E-- wasn't a slob or overly indulgent, but she did get tired of Porcelain Doll looking disdainfully at her if she ordered pizza late at night or left her coat lying on the common room couch.  The Doll's closet, of course, was perfectly organized by color, with her dainty shoes lined up at the bottom. And although my friend kept reasonable hours, she was still a college student, so the Doll's getting up at the crack of dawn to work out was disruptive to E--'s sleep schedule.

This went on until November or so, somewhat before Thanksgiving break.  Of course, the Doll cracked.  E--always attributed it to the grease trucks, the infamous vehicles selling food that are full of...the name says it all.

Suffice it to say that the most famous vendor amongst the grease trucks used to sell sandwiches with names like the Fat Bitch, although in today's politically-correct food era, the Fat Bitch has since been named the Fat Cat. (Shouldn't it have been renamed the Female Dog at very least?  But I digress).  Anyway, grease truck sandwiches were stuffed not only with multiple hamburger patties and bacon, but also French fries and mozzarella sticks...pretty much everything an anorexic would fantasize about in college at 2 AM.

Flickr: Image credit


After eating at the grease trucks, E--swore that her roommate underwent a sudden transformation.  Within weeks, the Doll had a boyfriend.  The roommate stopped perming her hair and dyed it bright red.  The Doll stopped going to her classes (a bad thing to do if you are a science major with labs). My friend had trouble getting into the room because the Doll would sometimes barricade the door with furniture, to ensure she wouldn't be disturbed with her boyfriend.  When E-- did get in, she would find strange, hippie-like people laying on the couch in the common room.  The smell of pot (and worse, cheap incense) became so repulsively pervasive E--said she could smell it in her hair and even in her freshly-washed clothes.

And of course, the roommate gained 40 pounds and left empty take-out containers all over.

By the end of the year (over the course of which the roommate also began to get very seriously into Wicca and had redecorated the entire dorm with lots of purple posters and crystals) my friend was going home more frequently and/or very apologetically crashing with her boyfriend.

"At first I felt bad saying something, because I thought cutting lose was a positive development for the Doll," she said.  "Then, when I finally complained, she was too wasted all the time to care."

Fortunately, my identity is not so fragile that Brie will change my character...but still...it is pretty awesome all the same, even more so, dare I say than one of these.

Image credit: Yelp




18 comments:

  1. So you've never had Baked Brie in puffed pastry either? You're missing out! http://micuisine.com/lunapiercook/?p=2167

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    1. Wow! The Brie looks spectacular, but the other photos almost make me forget about Brie!

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  2. I was starting to wonder about your lack of blogging lately, but I now see it was because you were busy eating brie. That's the trouble with soft cheeses; they interfere with typing. I've eaten brie (because it was served at every party given between 1979 and 1985, along with a platter of apple slices and green grapes) but have no memory of either liking or disliking it.

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    1. It is rather amazing how pervasive it was at parties, yet I never had it until recently.

      Unfortunately, this is my busy season at work. I have missed blogging. Brie (and all cheeses) make a convenient snack to eat while at the computer, although unlike Swiss and Provolone, I do have to eat the Brie with a fork.

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  3. Brie is indeed one of my favorite cheeses...It won't stop there, wait till you start enjoying other french creamy cheeses. I love cheese and could not imagine ever giving it up. Love almost any kind, a good cheese, is a perfect food.

    Velva

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    1. I agree--the difficulty is not getting too carried away!

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  4. oh wow–this looks amazing!

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  5. I love cheese but I LOVE popcorn. I could eat that for every meal, every day. I ate so much brie when I was doing Atkins that I grew sick of it, but now (thanks to you) it is starting to sound tempting again.

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    1. I am doing paleo, which is also low-carb, so perhaps the brie obsession is a side effect!

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  6. Coming from Malaysia, Brie is hardly popular at all. We are spoilt by plastic texture like single wrapper cheese. Even though I travel to Australia and tried some of their best cheese, it will take some time for me to fall in love with Brie. Now I have to settle with cheddar!

    Wilson
    www.placesandfoods.com

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    1. Cheddar is acceptable, but it is no Brie!

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  7. I am so sorry it took you so long to "find" brie. It really is the best.

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    1. It took me awhile but I am making up for lost time!

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  8. I grew up with brie...my mom is a cheese addict...and I always bring it out when I want to impress friends/dinner guests. Yes, I do think its addictive, but far better to be addicted to brie than to other things (at least in my book!)

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    1. True, even in regards to food, I've certainly had worse addictions, like peanut butter swirl ice cream and maple oat scones...

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  9. I've maybe had brie once... just based on your love of it, I'm going to say that I probably enjoyed it :). Though I have to say, to me it's not a grilled cheese sandwich without kraft singles :). And don't be hattin' on me cheez whiz! :).
    Great story by the way... I can't say I've ever really witnessed such a swing before, except with myself and eating healthier and exercising and whatnot... I may have even driven people crazy, I'm not entirely sure :).

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    1. Adam, come to think of it...given my eating/exercise behavior in the past, I may have been 'that roommate' in different contexts (in a somewhat less extreme fashion)!

      I knew you would step up to defend The Whiz! :) But maybe you should give a grilled cheese sandwich with brie a try...

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