The other day, I listed some of the reasons for my recent radio silence. But another reason — perhaps a more important reason — that I haven’t been posting so much is that my creative juices have been going elsewhere. This blog feels a bit like an old friend that sees you go from awkward 15-year-old to real person, only braces and ill-chosen clothing decisions are replaced by run-on sentences, poor punctuation, and orangey photos. I cringe at some of my first posts from this blog, and yet people today are paying me to write for them. Go figure.
One site that I’ve been writing for recently is called Organic Authority. My first brushes with the site happened last year around this time, when I first became really interested in the local movement. I was shopping at my neighborhood market, cooking mostly vegetarian meals, and I started chatting with Laura Klein, who was happy to welcome me on board the Organic Authority bandwagon. One series of articles that I instigated there within months of writing for them had to do with local cheese farmers in the United States. Which, after stints in several different American regions, finally brought me to New York.
I’ve become a bit of a cheese snob since living in France, but I was intrigued by many of the farmers I spoke to. In France, most cheese production is based in long lines of tradition, and there isn’t too, too much creativity going on within those guidelines (with a few exceptions of course). There’s really no need to mess with something that’s been working so well for so long! In the States, however, a whole host of traditions from different countries are at farmers’ disposal.
I don’t really buy any cheese at the supermarket when I’m back in the States. I figure it’s all better here, and I content myself to taking advantage of American things, like Entenmann’s coffee cake, double-stuff Oreos and everything bagels (it’s weird what you miss when you leave…). But when I visited the farmer’s market in Westhampton Beach a few weeks ago with my sister and our friend, the Photographer, I was pleased as punch to stumble upon the stand of Mecox Bay Dairy, one of the cheese farmers I had featured in my New York article.
Art Ludlow and I had talked on the phone for about an hour several months before, and while we had never seen one another in person, I knew that the young man standing at the stand was not the same person I had spoken to on the phone. I assume it was his son, but I didn’t have the courage to introduce myself. Instead, I walked up and asked for a piece of the cheese that Mr. Ludlow himself had recommended to me: Mecox Sunrise.
The man manning the stand recommended it as well, though he did tell me that someone earlier that day had brought back their wedge, claiming to be a cheese expert and saying that it had gone off. It’s that, er, fragrant. But I’m a fan of Maroilles; I wasn’t afraid and told him so. I bought my wedge and brought it home, where I forced my entire family to let it slowly come to room temperature before digging in. It was a hardship, but I’m very serious about cheese.
Fragrant is an understatement when it comes to this cheese. Some of the palates in my family were not huge fans; it’s not for the weak of nose. It’s a tomme-style cheese, but it definitely reminded me of my Maroilles back in France. The rind is where the strong flavor lies; the inside of the cheese is creamy and milder. It was love at first bite, at least for me.
I’m back in France now, where cheese is plentiful, and nearly all of it is full of flavor. There’s a lovely Roquefort currently stinking up my fridge, and I couldn’t be happier. But I’m very, very glad to have learned that even back in the States, there are cheeses that I can fall so in love with.
It’s hard to believe the series of events that has led me here, how far I’ve had to travel to be led right back home, to my own backyard: the farmers’ market of the town I was nearly born in (but that’s another story). But I wouldn’t change any step of the journey.