I think it is time to admit that for the past 12 months I have actually been working in a cheese shop. Much unlike the Monthy Python example, we stock over 160 types of cheese, and we rarely run out.
cow’s, ewe’s, goat’s buffalo’s,
hard, semi-hard, semi-soft, soft,
runny, pungent, mild,
bloomy rind, washed rind, natural rind,
crumbly pate, spring pate, clay-like pate,
whatever one desires, we almost got everytime.
It started out of sheer curiosity, and also a bit of obsession with cheese.
I had always worked in media before, mostly behind the camera, producing a whole array of programs for various audiences in multiple countries.
But I always had a little dream.
Whenever I decided to leave the media industry, perhaps in my sixties, I would be back in Istanbul, and I would start up my cheese shop.
A small, cosy, smelly shop where I would have my regular clientele, with whom I would chat about the weather as I gave them a slice of Morbier to taste, or a tiny bit of Comte to nibble on. And we would smile, and be merry as the cheese melted in our mouths. I would bring into their life a bit of something nice.
It happened sooner that I thought.
At a moment when I was having a tougher time than usual to find the kind of work I was really intersted in producing in the media field, I thought to myself, who don’t you give cheese a try.
And so I retailored my CV. One of my key strengths became “Passion for Cheese.” Within a few weeks, I had found a job as a cheese assistant at one of London’s top cheese sellers.
I started working with cheese everyday.
Every morning as I entered the cheese shop, a very particular smell reached my nostrils, that of cheese and wood, and mould (the good kind).
My first moment of fascination was when I discovered that the three cellars we have, goat’s and bloomy rinds in one, hard cheeses in the other, and washed rinds in the third, smelled completely different than one another, while all leaving a sugary taste in my mouth, as the odours hit my nasal passage.
Then came affinage.
My fingertips stank with cheese all night after that day, even though I washed my hands at least six times afterwards. But it was all worth it.
To this day, a whiff of the Livarot washed rind, sweet and sour, and alcoholic, makes me salivate.
Since then, I’ve tasted all the cheeses in the cheese room, every single one of them.
I’ve fallen in love with a few of them, Persille du Marais (Goat’s) and Zelu Koloria (Ewe’s) from Blues,
Ami and Livarot from Washed rinds,
Ticklemore, St. Maure, Valencay, and especially Truffe Noire from Goat’s
Tomme de Cleon, Comte D’estive, and Fribourg from the hards,
And Gabietou, and Napoleon, oh so sweet, oh so delicately sweetly perfumed milky beauties from the Ewe’s,
And yes Brie aux Truffes, a whole Brie de Meaux cut in half, smeared generously with a secret Truffle concoction, and put back together again for a measure of frivolity.
I work with cheese;
I smell, clean, cut, wash, cling film, sell cheese, all sorts of cheese every day, day after day, sometimes from seven in the morning until early evening, and I still love it.
I guess this love really is a keeper.
Maybe one day, I’ll marry the two, my love of media, and my love of cheese. This is just the beginning:)
(I had written the first version of this article about five months ago. Since then, my love for cheese has directed me into a path that I never thought I could make a career of. I am still very much in love with the product that is cheese, but have now decided to widen my horizon. There is still so much to learn, so much to experience, and to write about. This is all a wonderful experience.)