Tag Archives: cheese

My name’s A Brit Out Of Water, and I’m a cheese addict

Having been plugged into my iPod each morning on the way to work this week, I’ve realised just how many guilty pleasures I have when it comes to music. Everybody has their own guilty pleasure – that song that you know you really shouldn’t like, but somehow you can’t just help yourself. Admitting to it loses you all credibility, but – let’s be honest – having been a member of the T’Pau fan club as a youngster, I never really had much of that in the first place.

From Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” to “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner, my collection is packed to the gills with the kind of songs I would have taken out of my CD stacks and hidden if any serious music fan had come to visit. Now they sit safely within the shadowy lair of my hard drive, safely out of harm’s way but still accessible to me on the long and winding road into the office.

Of course, the problem with this is like any addict who is successfully able to hide his dependency from friends and family, consumption of said addiction goes up because you think you can get away with it. So while The Special One thinks that I’m constantly listening to the latest hot young things from Brooklyn or Sheffield on my headphones, I’m actually singing along internally to “Mr Blue SKy” by ELO, or “Wind of Change” by The Scorpions.

My stealthy cheese habit extends to the dairy version too. While I love cheese in all its artisanal forms, nasty American cheese (or even the stuff they laughingly call cheddar here) definitely has its time and place. But only when nobody is looking. A good hot everything bagel with melted cheese and ham for breakfast is no substitute for a bacon butty, but it cures most known ills. And pepper jack (a heritage-less cheese if ever there was one) definitely has its place in my heart.

However, the worst sin of all – the Barbra Streisand of the cheese world, if you will – is the clandestine love affair I have with Wispride cheese balls. They look like something that you’d see on a Sky One programme entitled “America’s Worst Inventions,” but for some reason I just can’t get enough of it. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re not available in the UK (and so still have novelty value), or perhaps it’s because they’re a subconscious reaction against my adoration of lovingly crafted and aged cheeses of the world, but whatever the case, these things are like crack in dairy form. Give me some Jacob’s cream crackersTriscuits, an extra sharp cheddar cheese ball and maybe an episode of The Wire or 24, and I’m happier than a pig wallowing around in his own excrement. The only way I could be happier would be to put some love songs by Chicago on the stereo at the same time.

Actually, I really shouldn’t have put that thought in my head. I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. Just don’t tell the neighbours, eh?

Two pieces of bread and a whole load of turkey

I’m proud to say that I come from the home of the sandwich. You can’t beat a simple sandwich, freshly made with great bread and quality ingredients, and preferably accompanied by a bag of crisps. Admittedly the Earl of Sandwich probably didn’t go for cheese and Branston Pickle butties with an accompanying pile of cheese’n’onion flavour potato-based snacks, but I’m pretty sure that he would approve. If he hadn’t been dead for 200 years, that is.

Here in the States, the sandwich is equally revered, but over-complicated. It’s like comparing a 70s prog rock double headed guitar solo with the beautiful simplicity of an acoustic guitar track. By law, every US sandwich must have 73 ingredients, of which 18 are legally required to be cheese. Lettuce and salad can be included if absolutely necessary, but this can sometimes result in only a two inch thickness of turkey being added rather than the statutory four. The Subway chain gets around this by making sure every sandwich filling is actually made of turkey. Including the tomatoes. The only exception is the lettuce, which has to be cut at least six days before being used to ensure that it develops their patented Brown & Unappealing™ look.

Americans make a big play of the fact that they don’t put butter on sandwiches, while neglecting to mention that they smear so much mayonnaise on everything that Brooklyn alone ensures that senior Hellman executives have earned their annual bonus every year since 1934. The inhabitants of some small villages in the Cotswolds have a lower collective calorific intake than the consumers of certain New York sandwiches.

Most egregious of all, as I have indicated before, is the American obsession with putting peanut butter on sandwiches. Peanut butter is neither big nor clever. It is the devil’s food, and its combination with jelly (or ‘poor man’s jam’ as I like to call it) is simply wrong.

In fact, the only good thing about peanut butter is that it ensures that I never drink too much on a weeknight. The Young Ones love peanut butter on the sandwiches they take to school, and even the thought of making them while nursing a large hangover is enough to make me nauseous.