Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wake Up and Smell the (Rancid) Roses


It’s time to reveal a secret. In primary school, I always had crushes on the weird boys. The shy viola enthusiast with the triple-barrelled South African surname; the clinically unattractive boy in year three who helped me win a state-wide French Olympiad but who had unusually wide, child-bearing hips and corrective eyewear; the boy who told me that if he had girls as children he would cry because boys are just so much better (actually he was a 18 year old man that I made out with in a skeezy bar, but he was still a dud) – it was a veritable roll-call of poindexters who were not exactly plucked from the high boughs of the social tree. You knew who those boys were. After all, you never saw Lisa Meanhair hanging out with boys who wore wrist guards in co-ed Division Five Netball.

As with boys, so with cheese. I have an uncanny ability to pick out the craziest, funkiest and health-department-contrabandiest cheeses in any store and bring them home to meet mum and dad. Today was no different.

When I pick out a small piece of cheese with “Tallegio” on the label, I expect a creamy Italian number that would go down well with a nice chianti.

Instead, I brought home a cheese that smells like roses…and not in the good way. It smells like the rancid leavings of the rose bush that used to shed its petals in the midsummer sun behind the school gym in primary school – petals that decomposed on the scorched bricks during the day, and at night mixed in with the heady aroma of Impulse Perfection body spray and Lynx Regret while you kissed Joost van der Velt de Vere before returning to the school dance. Soundtrack? Informer, by Snow.

This time the bad choices didn’t rest with you telling your friends that you broke up with Joost because he tried to hold your hand. The bad choice was opting for an adolescent tallegio that was going through some serious changes and taking on a musky scent of its own.

But if you get over the smell of this particular cheese, (just as you got over Ed’s corrective eyewear and Charles’ insolent comments about girls not being able to play tennis) there is something charming at its heart. Creamy, with a touch of saltiness that is offset nicely by a glass of red, this is a cheese complex enough to be enjoyed on its own. Just like the lyrics of Snow.

So although it smells like hell and may leave you with a bitter aftertaste (just like the break up with Joost, rendered in biting green text on the cold screen of a ICQ chat window) this is the kind of cheese you look back on with fondness. If for no other reason than it helps you to slowly work your way to finding The One when you’re all grown up.

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