Another Confession: Am I a Fraud?
07 March 2011
There is certain arrogance to being a foodie, a sort of lifted-up, unspoken status that of course means absolutely nothing other than the fact that you've survived being raised on Big Agri and have since reinvented your relationship with food. Indeed it is cool to embark on a life of tasting and pairing, spreading and dipping, and of course, adding cheese to anything and everything you can sample it with. And it’s fun to work the gastronome angle, show off your cheese exposure to your pedestrian-palate friends, dropping names and saying it properly as well. Admit it, it’s equally as fun to whip out the arbitrary seasoned or wine-crusted piece in gorgeous wrap and pass it off as just some little nothing lying around in your humble Sub Z. Admit it, knowing what’s out there is a constant source of amusement. Which brings me to my latest game: introducing myself as a blogger for an American cheese magazine, while befriending the Lunigianese artisan cheese producers and sampling everything in sight. Well it’s true, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you do it?
It’s all in good fun that I speak of gastronomic tomfoolery, but there really is a more pressing issue on the table. Last week, the great readers of the Culture blogs came forward for me, stood up to huddle around me to form in an inner sanctum of people who trim fuzz off rotting cheese and proudly border on disgusting. I found out that I am, indeed, not alone. My fellow rind trimmers and fuzz pullers, it is in the same spirit that I risk everything to divulge the atrocity I am about to unveil. What self-respecting wine tasting, cheese blogging, habanero/chocolate eating, Lunigiana-living, Italian learning, Venice Carnevale experiencing, farmer meeting, recipe learning, olive oil snob becoming foodie could have such a skeleton buried deeply in the closet? I confess that I do. And I confess that:
There, I said it. Beginning with the sound of the word alone, to the smell, to the harshness of it, to my inability to swallow it... I hate it. Please don’t comment that it’s really good from such-and-such a place or that the sweet or creamy variety will change my life forever, for I assure you I have tried every combination, clinging to the hope of moving beyond it, and there isn’t any. Nope. Hate it. Not with pears. Not with arugula. Not with anything. I have even become ill from it on several occasions that I wanted to bust through the wall between myself and a cheese loved by so many I respect and adore. But I cannot stir it around in my polenta any longer, write about it in a blog post, all the while wishing it would morph into a nice tallegio I could relax into swallowing. I just can't hide it anymore.
“The only thing I like about gorgonzola is its faint presence in the amazing barnyard flavor of Zaca Mesa’s Mourverdre from Santa Barbara County. I know it isn’t for everyone (what a foodie with a hint of arrogance says when she is about to serve something a bit far-fetched for the present company,) but it's complex and pairs incredibly with a small bite of very high quality dark chocolate, particularly with chili or curry, like Vosages for example. People either love it or they hate it... I personally love it. It is my favorite wine.” Now, how can a person who means every word of the previous statement and its inherent commitment to pushing the ongoing sensory envelope actually hate gorgonzola? My favorite wine tastes like it, and I still hate it! And I can imagine a pairing and I get that it could be either a total trip or a complete mess with a proper creamy gorgonzola... but I hate it, so I won’t be partaking in that tasting ever. Am I an utter fraud?