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Monday, November 05, 2007

Sick Day 2

"Your cheese smells," the oldest says, turning up his nose as he shuffles through the dining room on his way to get his favorite blanket from his room. He's home from school again today, sounding much like a forty-year smoker when he coughs.

I smile, secretly relieved he finds my food repugnant. Under normal circumstances, I would give him the Green Eggs and Ham speech, the "If you don't try it, you don't know what you're missing" lecture, but not with Cambozola. I don't actually mind not sharing.

I smear the creamy cheese on Carr's Table Water Crackers. I wanted Bremner Wafers, but I can't find anything on purpose yet in the new Fresh Market, though I do just dandy buying on impulse. Carr's work fine. The cracker isn't the important thing anyway; the cheese is.

The first time I ever tasted Cambozola, I was fourteen and living in Washington, DC. My set of friends and I had walked from our school to a local gourmet called Sutton Place, which we called by its local nickname - Glutton Place. We did this once a week or so throughout our eighth grade year, before sports and clubs and such flung us apart weekday afternoons the following year.

Inside Sutton Place, society matrons and staff jostled each other in front of counters labelled with names like Charcuterie and Boulangerie, each group thinking itself the better. Jams made of strange fruits, tall jars of chutney, and oddly-shaped, imported cookies lined the shelves. All were priced dearly.

One day there was a little silver tray of complimentary crackers with Cambozola in front of the counter labelled Fromagerie. Feeling brazen, I took one when my friends, put off by the smell and the threads of mold, would not. My impulse was rewarded with a strong, biting taste cradled in creamy texture.

My friends and I threaded our way through the store, sampling this pastry, that ham, but never daring to attempt for a complimentary swallow of wine. If we had been turned down, it would have crushed the feeling of adultness we derived from the cashiers not carding us for cigarettes, which we lit and held and waved and did anything with but actually inhale. We would take our little green bottles of Perrier, our pan chocolate, and our smoking accessories outside to Sutton Place's brick courtyard and linger endlessly, feeling very, very mature.

If I had more money than usual, I would also get ten or twelve slices of large, Cantimpalo chorizo, which would be handed to me wrapped in waxed butcher paper. Eating the chorizo left my fingers and lips shiny and slightly reddened. My friends would always turn up their noses at it, telling me it looked awful, that it smelled bad. I never tried to convince them otherwise. I didn't actually mind not sharing.
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