With war in Ukraine, transportation hold-ups around the world affecting supply, pandemic concerns fading as inflation concerns become pronounced—these are stressful times, yet, perhaps, an ideal time for specialty cheese.
Crazy as it sounds, high-quality cheeses can be the perfect balm for stressful times. These can be pricey, that is true, but one doesn’t eat massive amounts—one samples.
When the world seems to be closing in, when wars and shortages imperil international trade, there are always fine cheeses—imported and domestic—to remind us of the history and flavor profiles of cheeses from around the world.
And we all need a nibble during stressful times. Combine great cheeses with dried fruits, jams, honey, mustards, interesting breads and crackers, and of course, an intriguing wine or artisan beer.
Beyond the food, of course, the companionship is what matters. We share tastes and remember travels. We share flavors and dream of places to go. The flavor profiles unite the generations, as grandparents tell their grandchildren of their being stationed in Europe and trying the cheeses there, before heading home to build a life that, ultimately, those grandchildren became a part of.
There are, of course, basic cheeses everywhere, but specialty cheese is inherently elevating. It makes the case that, as humans, we can travel—indeed, we must travel. We must stretch our senses, we much grow in awareness. We must meet new people and find new ways of proceeding.
Cheese is a very old food, so it carries with it a journey of humanity. Well over 7,000 years ago, most likely by accident, humans, probably as a result of storing and moving milk, wound up with cheese.
So, we can sit down with children and lay out human history as we offer an assortment of flavors and tastes.
When my oldest son was a young boy, he fell in love with Manchego, and that initial taste gave him the courage to try other cheeses. And the journey became an enriching travelogue where each country became known to him by its prominent cheese.
The young boy (he is in college now…and still loves Manchego) has traveled the world and can mark each country, each state, each people, by their cheeses.
So, a food can enrich our bellies… and our minds. Eating together can help us build friendships, and sharing our discoveries can make even remote friendships more meaningful. So, at a moment in time when war and economic distress cause fear and despair, it is worth remembering that the path to peace, prosperity and cooperation is human engagement, and few tools are more perfect in making that happen than breaking bread. Of course, the bread is always better with the perfect cheese.