Use Your Tongue!
USE YOUR TONGUE!
That was the message that was first given by Valerie Henbest, cheese importer (or “Fromage Air”) for Smelly Cheese, in Adelaide, South Australia. Valerie is also a passionate cheese educator and eater, originally from Normandy, France and now an Aussie-Franco mix. With a great accent, I might add, and a life pulse that’s infectious.
Last week, I attended a Bubbles & Cheese Master Class taught by my friend Natalie Fryar, who makes Jansz Australia (Tasmanian sparkling wine) and Valerie Henbest at the Smelly Cheese headquarters in Adelaide. After a tour of the aging room, 20+ of us sat down to bubbles and cheese…but the first order of business was to think about what we were tasting, an exercise that never, ever gets old.
In front of us was a small plate with four tastes sensations: lemon (sour), sugar (sweet), unsweetened cocoa (bitter), and salt (salt!). Valerie asked us to lick our forefinger then douse it in the sugar and spread it over our tongue, from front to back and around. Where did we taste it first? Where did the flavor spread to next? Where did it linger later on? And so on, with the other tastes.
We were given a diagram of the tongue and asked to write down where the tastes were first, second and so on. Fascinating! Most of us were different in how and where the flavors were expanding and exploding, and some weren’t able to stand the cocoa. The tongue exercise was training for the cheese and the wine tastings, and something we forget to think about on a regular basis.
The point? Think about what you’re eating. Take your time to feel it, engage in the tasting process, wonder about how you’re feeling about it, enjoying it (or not), and experiencing it. You’ll be amazed at the nuances you’ll discover in both cheese and wine if you use your tongue, mouth and head.