Talking It Out
We were sitting down to a quick meal, both of us sharing a frittata I’d made with some very nice aged Vermont goat cheese. My 16-year-old took another bite and added, “But not in a bad way.”
“Hmmm,” I teased, “I guess I don’t really know what dirt tastes like. I’ve never eaten any.”
“Mommm,” she sighed, eyes rolling, “you know what I mean. It’s what I imagine dirt would taste like, because of how it smells. It’s good . . . but it’s so earthy.” We both agreed that the cheese rind had a pleasant mulchy quality, suggesting minerals, leaves, and old wood. Not surprising, since the cheese had spent much of its life in a cave.
After that exchange, I was left thinking how rarely I discuss artisan cheese with those who are new to it, like my daughter. Most of my dialogue on the subject is with food cognoscenti; we all know the script. How different might it be, I wondered, if I took the discussion to a roundtable of cheese ingenues? Would an unguided cheese tasting elicit some new descriptions and fresh language? Certainly it couldn’t hurt. And besides, I had access to the ideal population from which to cull neophyte tasters: teenagers.
I charged my daughter with rounding up six friends who would come over and taste some unusual wedges. I had leftovers from the photo shoot for our cheese feature in the spring issue so there would be lots of variety to sample. On the appointed afternoon, my daughter came home with five classmates. Watch the video to see how this teenage cheese tasting went...
To read the full editor's letter, go to our spring 2011 issue, pg. 5