4.19.2009

Experiments in Cheese-Eating



Some say the cheese stands alone. Cube it, grate it, slice off chunks with your knife, cheese doesn’t stay alone long in our house.
These past few weeks I have been exploring new pantry staples, mainly cheese, things in jars, and things in cans.
At the end of my experiment I find that my initial hypothesis was correct: you really can’t go wrong with covering almost anything in cheese. Really, this conclusion explains why, when I was eating a more restrictive diet as a vegan, everything seemed to be automatically encased in a layer of solid cow milk.
Veganism didn’t last too long for me. My best explanation is that my people are Longhorn* people. This explains why, occasionally, I feel the urge to take a bit of my fiancĂ©’s hamburger, and also explains a life-long obsession with dairy. Dairy, unfortunately, does not love me quite as much.
I discovered this fact after cutting out my morning milk and coffee. I still drank coffee (I wasn’t going to try to give that up, too) but with soymilk. I immediately felt a difference in my middle regions. I had always assumed that it was the coffee on an empty stomach giving me a hard time, when it was actually the cow’s milk. Oh.
When I switched back to eating cheese again, I stuck with the morning soymilk. But, I’m not one of those people who enjoy eating soy everything. So, I found a great goat’s milk yogurt at the local co-op (which is supposed to be much easier to digest). A second thing that I changed as a result of this experiment on my body was my perception of school lunch. I had always assumed that it was ridiculous that students did not eat all of their meal, if at all, and I would view the pile of still full, discarded milk cartons with much rolling of the eyes. However, now that I’ve realized that milk is not so good for me, I’ve started rolling my eyes at the Federal government who thinks that all children’s stomachs can equally digest another species’ milk past infanthood (I was one of those children who couldn’t even drink my own mother’s milk, so I should have known better all these years.)
But, luckily, cheese remains still an option for me. Something about the cheese-making process turns the indigestable lactose into yummy, yummy curds and whey.
The man at the cheese counter seemed to intuitively understand my obsession. He wouldn’t stop feeding me cheese and I wouldn’t stop eating it. It was a great feedback (heh, heh) loop. So, I purchased some lovely Romano with an extremely long first name, and a Maple-smoked Cheddar.
Romano is a cheese that loves to be grated over almost any kind of food, and adds a salty, tangy kick. I had fun putting it on pasta, in salad, and on pizza. I also used it to camouflage certain unusual ingredients that I felt compelled to add to my experiment: canned artichokes and sardines, capers, and a bottle of pesto that I couldn’t resist. Following is a simple recipe for Macaroni and Caper Pesto Sauce, which sounds pretty impressive but is no more than a grown-up version of Mac-n-cheese. You can add a big bowl of Artichoke and Romano Spinach Salad. Voila! Pantry staples that don’t lead to mushy, gushy green bean casserole.
*Longhorn Cheddar Cheese-Eaters

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