Archive for June 10th, 2011

Why Some People Believe Wisconsin Must Be Stopped

The flavor of cheese can provoke ecstasy in some people and disgust in others. The 17th Century saw the publication of at least two learned European treatises “de aversatione casei,” or “on the aversion to cheese.” And the author of “Fromage” in the 18th-century Encyclopedie noted that “cheese is one of those foods for which certain people have a natural repugnance, of which the cause is difficult to determine.” Today the cause is clearer. The fermentation of milk, like that of grains or grapes, is essentially a process of limited, controlled spoilage. We allow certain microbes and their enzymes to decompose the original food, but not beyond the point of edibility. In cheese, animal fats and proteins are broken down into highly odorous molecules. Many of the same molecules are also produced during uncontrolled spoilage, as well as by microbial activity in the digestive tract and on moist, warm, sheltered areas of human skin.

An aversion to the odor of decay has the obvious biological value of steering us away from possible food poisoning, so it’s no wonder that an animal food that gives off whiffs of shoes and soil and the stable takes some getting used to. Once acquired, however, the taste for partial spoilage can become a passion, an embrace of the earthy side of life that expresses itself in paradoxes. The French call a particular plant fungus the pourriture noble, or “noble rot,” for its influence on the character of certain wines, and the Surrealist poet Leon-Paul Fargue is said to have honored Camembert cheese with the title les pieds de Dieu—the feet of God.

—Harold McGee, On Food And Cooking



The busy little bean-counters back there in the wordpress admin panel tell me that I have put up 500 posts on this blog. To become, with this one, 501.

Ye gods.

I realize that some of them have been reprints, reruns, shorties, or simple splashes of music. Still, that seems like a lot of turns round the hamster wheel, in a time span of roughly two years.

I was originally going to post the old folk dirge “500 Miles” to commemorate this moment. And then I thought: no, that’s a gloomy, mournful, wallow-be. And I don’t feel particularly like wallow-being in gloomy and mournful this morn.

So I’m going instead with the “500 Miles” of youngblood Belarusian/Norwegian goofball Alexander Rybak, prodigyal son of classically trained parents in piano (mother Natalia) and violin (father Igor).

Rybak nicked his “500 Miles” from the Scottish identical twins of The Proclaimers. To be expected, as that duo’s 1988 “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” long ago got loose upon the land. It has been used to peddle ale in Canada, wake astronauts on the International Space Station, celebrate the democratization of  television in Spain. It is played amid great jubilation whenever the Scottish national football team scores a goal. And it snuck into that 1993 ode to oddballs Benny & Joon when principal actress Mary Stuart Masterson (Joon) recurrently played it on set, sparking the filmmakers to upload it into the film.

So I see no reason at all why I can’t use the impossibly ebullient Rybak invocation to evoke 500 runs at the wheel.

When I Worked

June 2011
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