So, Friday was Valentine’s Day. I’m not really into the whole thing myself, but the card companies tell us that it’s a good night to cuddle up with your honey and eat something decadent and delicious – and it just so happens that snuggles and gluttony are two of my favourite hobbies. I reckon that if you’re going to celebrate V-Day, the best way to do it is over cheese (which is, to be honest, how I feel about every other holiday, too.) Why drag yourself out to a jam-packed, over-priced restaurant when you’ve got a decent bottle of wine, some smelly cheese, a few hunks of bread and a nice big fire at home? It’s sometimes said that cheese is an aphrodisiac, and I’m certainly not going to argue. It’s a good night to make a pot of fondue, bake a Camembert, throw together a wee cheeseboard or even just pick one amazing cheese and go to town on that baby. In fact, the origin stories of some of the world’s best cheeses are based around young love, giving all of us the perfect excuse to indulge in a dairy overload on February 14th.
According to legend, we owe the very existence of the beautiful blue Roquefort to a well-aimed shot from Cupid’s bow. A young shepherd was eating his lunch, a simple meal of bread and cheese, when he spotted a beautiful girl in the distance. Entranced, he abandoned his food in a cave, and ran after her. (I don’t know if I’m lacking in some innate romantic quality, but no matter how good-looking a passer-by, I can’t imagine discarding my lunch for the chase. I’d be more likely to leave my date in the cave and run after the food.) When he returned a few days later, both the bread and cheese were covered in the patterned blue mould which would later become known as Penicillum roqueforti, and one of the world’s best-loved cheeses was created.
A similar story is told about the origins of Gorgonzola, that other world-famous blue beauty. Around the same time as that French shepherd was running lustily after his heart’s desire, a young Italian lothario was also a little too distracted by the ladies. Too distracted, in fact, to finish doing his job. An apprentice to a cheesemaker, he was left alone to finish the day’s work; it must’ve been a Saturday night or something because, in his hurry to go a-wooing, he left his curds draining overnight. Upon his return the following morning – presumably more focused after a successful pursuit – he found the curds ruined, and so did what any irresponsible youth would do: he mixed them through the fresh curds, in the hopes that his master wouldn’t find out about his reckless and randy abandon. The cheese was a big snitch, though, and within a few weeks, blue veins had started to creep their way through the batch. We don’t know whether Romeo got into trouble, but who cares: Gorgonzola was born, making the cheese world a better place while simultaneously teaching horny young guys with a bad work ethic exactly the wrong sort of lesson.
I know that these stories are likely fabrications, legends that have been romanticised and embellished over time. I have a soft spot for traditional, perhaps overly-sentimentalised food stories though, and another one for cheese; this is about as slushy as I get, so happy Valentine’s Day everybody. Whether you were out on the town, chilling with friends, having a night in with your loved one, happily flying solo or just ignoring the entire thing, I hope your day was cheesy in all the right ways.
Got any cheese-related love stories of your own? I’d love to hear them, so feel free to leave a comment below.
[All photos featured via ShutterStock.]