Monday, 30 August 2010

A cheese too far

Cheese seems to attract poetasters, for there are hundreds of odes to it. Here is one written by Deric Guest, and published in Wine and Food, André Simon's Gastronomic Wine Quarterly, in 1950:

How shall my palate aught but fickle be
Confronted with such wealth of choice choice—in Brie,
Blue-veiny Dorset, Wensleydale and Dutch,
Stilton and Gruyère, Shabzieger and such
Exotic brands—for Nature sets no term
To the emulgent products of the lactic germ!
To wash down hunks of cheese from Lancashire;
Broaden my vowels, don corduroys and foster
The yeoman spirit bred on Double Gloucester?
Or, with abandoned braggadocio, dare
The cloying decadence of Camembert?

Passing over the pleasure of finding aught, emulgent and braggadocio cropping up in a bit of facetious doggerel about cheese, it is interesting to note that while most of the named cheeses are not exotic to us now (this was written in the grey postwar days when we still thought olive oil was only for pouring into your ear), one of them is no longer widely known.

Shabzieger? Haven't seen that in Tesco's. Surprising, when Wikipedia, spelling it slightly differently, tells us that it was first made by Swiss monks in the 8th century, that it is produced exclusively by Gesellschaft Schweizer Kräuterkäse-Fabrikanten (well, it would be, wouldn't it?), contains blue fenugreek, and is sold abroad under the name Swiss Green Cheese. It was introduced into New York pharmacies in the 1800s under the brand Sap Sago: perhaps they tried to sell it under that name over here too, which would account for its lack of appeal nowadays.

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