26 Jan 2013

Cheesy Choices

Food has always been a high priority of mine, so it is hardly surprising that this hasn't simmered down since my being in Paris.  While my fridge out here is often stocked with life-long milk, fruit juice, pasta sauce, a carton of eggs and other uninspiring purchases, I dedicate the worthiest part of it to my fondness of fromage, or as we Brits says, cheese.  My diet out here has notably consisted of a lot of cheese, and I mean A LOT.  Brie, Camembert, Comte, Chevre, Emmental, Gruyere, Mimolette, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Raclette, Ricotta, Roquefort, Tomme de Savoie.  The list goes on.  My aim was to buy a new cheese each week, but I soon became confused as to which cheeses I'd tried and which I hadn't.  The pre-purchasing process is a long one and usually involves poking the cheese to determine its texture, inspecting how old it is, and having a cheeky look at the price-tag.  I'm sure you're gawping at my cheesy expertise.

And cheese isn't just for spicing up a ham sandwich or throwing on top of your hamburger.  Before coming to France, I'd often eat it with Digestive biscuits, but the bread-loving French have converted me to smothering it on crunchy baguette.  The only thing missing is some good 'ol chutney or Branston pickle to accompany it.   However, since the quality of cheese in France is generally far superior to that in England, eating it sans chutney is perfectly acceptable.  Although I often see little jars of fig compote at the cheese counter so maybe that's the French alternative.  

I will never forget when I first arrived in Paris and bought a little boite of Camembert from the supermarket for under two euros.  My expectations weren't particularly high but when I took it out of the fridge, it was the gooiest, smelliest, mouth-wateringly delicious Camembert I'd ever tasted.  I've never turned back.  

But while on the whole I've been thoroughly impressed with the cheese out here, sometimes it's good to get back to my roots and raid a tub of philly every now and then.  And of course I get the 'light' version, because I think it tastes just as good.  That's how I feel about mayonnaise too.  Many mayo-eaters are offended by the concept of 'Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise' because they don't believe it's real.  However, light mayo is what I've been brought up on and what I'll continue to eat.  In fact, I think full-fat mayo tastes too rich and it feels like I'm spreading lard on my sandwich.  Hellmann's doesn't actually exist in France and there are plenty of other branded mayonnaise's which I am sad to say don't quite live up to the same standard.  I find the mayo here too strong, teaming with mustard which I'm not a huge fan of anyway and instead of complementing my tuna mayo, its taste is overpowering and combats the tuna's already strong flavour.

Anyway, I recently purchased a small tub of philadephia light at the supermarket and discovered that it tastes scrummy on biscottes (melba toast) with a splash of sweet chili sauce and parma ham.  I can't remember how many I devoured in one sitting, but needless to say I wiped clean half my pot of philly.  It probably didn't help that the hob wasn't available so I had to console myself with cheese.  It definitely worked; cheese is totally becoming the new ice-cream.  Sweet chili sauce is also something which I will happily garnish on most things (bar ice-cream).  Whether it's with cheese, noodles, prawn crackers, crisps, pizza crusts, in fajitas...sweet chili sauce is one of my favourite fridge friends and I can always rely on it to liven up my meal.  Philadelphia is another great fridge friend, but for very different reasons.  The cream cheese is perfect for adding to soup, mashed potatoes, stuffed in chicken breasts, cheesecakes, or spreading on a bagel with smoked salmon.  I'll also use it for making Smoked Mackerel pat which tastes great with lemon and ground black pepper on warm pitta bread.

I think that's enough cheese-talk for one day.  You know what they say about cheese and nightmares....

Watch this space.


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