Sometimes, try as you might, what you want to write doesn't quite coalesce on the page in the way that you'd like, and you find yourself grasping at straws. Sometimes you find yourself trying desperately to stay on-topic, when the lure of an off-topic, but appealing, conversation, keeps drawing your metaphorical eyes back in its direction.
While in Atlanta the previous weekend, Jeff and I made the potentially fiscally dangerous choice of going to Harry's for a few hours. For those of you unaware, Harry's is a disturbingly-large conglomeration of edible substances, all contained under one roof. If you can eat it, you can buy it at Harry's. Considering that they actually sold pickled watermelon rind, I think it's safe to say that they even sell (as food) some items that are clearly not meant for human consumption.
We won't get into the arcane munchies I brought home. I just don't have the energy to rhapsodize about strawberry-champagne jelly. What's important is that Jeff came home with a tub of Triple Onion Cream Cheese, a gloriously stinky concoction containing shallots, green onions, white onions, and chives - with a few cheese molecules to serve as binders.
Believing that nothing would go better with the glorious stink than more glorious stink, we bought a four-pack of Everything Bagels. After all, why settle for only repelling your local vampires when you can repel everyone with functional noses within a three-block radius?
By the time we got back to Huntsville, Jeff realized that he wanted some variety in his cream-cheese-toting carbohydrates, so he picked up some crackers. "Toasteds." Whatever. I've just been strangely hypnotized by the questions on the side of the box.
Simple Answers to Your Cheese Questions
Actually, I didn't have any cheese questions, but since they brought up the possibility that there could be a deep and abiding need to have cheese questions answered, I read through the side of the box with a fascination and zeal that alarmed me.
How much cheese should I serve on a cheese tray?
"Plan for 2 ounces of cheese per guest if you'll be serving dinner. If cheese is the main event, plan on 6 ounces per guest. Serve at room temperature."
Is it just me, or are these people taking all the fun out of a dinner party or what? Am I the only person who thinks the idea of using a social gathering to provide a food-based example of trickle-down economics is a rather amusing idea? Forget this two ounces of cheese and eight ounces of wine thing; give everyone equally-sharpened skewers and a centrally-located mound of cheese cubes, then stand back and watch the carnage.
It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, right?
Which crackers and cheese taste best together?
"Milder cheese such as Monterey Jack or Havarti work well with Keebler® Club® or Town House® crackers. More flavorful cheeses such as Blue cheese or Sharp Cheddar are better paired with Keebler® Harvest Bakery® or Toasteds® crackers."
Is it just me, or are cheeseheads second only to oenophiles in their obsession and snobbery about their Refined Noshing Choices? I understand the need to garner every nuance in a $300 bottle of wine, but when you're glugging down supermarket cheddar and a $10 bottle of merlot, pass the toothpicks and the plastic cups, and have a dash of realism on the side. Corporate America would shoot me if they heard me say it, but normal human beings have not lost their capacity for taste. Provided a plate of cheese and crackers, I can guarantee you that ten out of ten human beings will find some way of combining the two in a way that tastes good to them. Humans are remarkably resilient like that.
To hell with the experts. Eat what you like, drink what you like, and do it in the manner that you see fit.
(To my left is a little glass jar filled with merlot. Why, yes, I do practice what I preach.)
If I were given the semi-national platform of a cracker box, and allowed to ask whatever cheese questions I wanted, I would not ask boring questions such as these. I would ask interesting questions, such as the following:
What form of brie is favored by the elephants of sub-Saharan Africa?
Discerning sub-Saharan elephants prefer Brie de Meaux, because of its lush flavor from raw milk. Due to draconian American laws greatly restricting the importation of raw-milk cheeses, sub-Saharan elephants who have relocated to the United States to avoid religious persecution have attempted to find suppliers willing to support their raw-milk cheese habit, to no avail.
What brand of Swiss is best used in bantering with evil villains?
Evil villains are 62% more likely to stumble over an accented character, so Gruyére is your best option if escape or villain humiliation is your goal. If you just want them to have a lovely time and nosh on some snacks before your fight to the death, consider a mild and nutty Emmental.
How many blocks of cheddar does it take to get to the moon?
None. However, you'll want to have at least fifteen on hand to serve as replacement heat-shielding tiles in case you lose any on your way to the moon. Remember, when it comes to heat shielding, cheddar is better!
What cheese goes best with melty beer?
You'll want a solid cheese, one that won't melt at room temperature and put unsightly cheese swirls into your lovely warm imported beer. You want chunks. We recommend an aged Pecorino Romano to add a lovely sheepy tang to your stout.
For extra credit: you, too, can give someone the gift of their name, carved into a block of cheese. Nothing says 'undying devotion' like a block of cheese!
(Questions thoughtfully provided by Adam in a ten-minute span of lunacy.)