Cheeses of Nazareth — Look What’s In The Kitschen! (A trip back in time, 1996–2001)
“God is in the tiger as well as in the lamb” — Jill
“There’s always room for Cheeses” — Cap’n Fatty
Allow me to share some highlights from the dawn of the internet… poetry, prose, emails from people who hated me (and probably still do), the $250.00 “Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie,” and an X-rated email exchange with an insane LA gangsta. But first, an introduction… no, wait! First, the awards!
Ok, now the intro…
Cheeses is everywhere. That’s not hard to understand, considering the universal appeal of this ancient living food. Cheeses ascended from the most humble of beginnings — the solidified form of ripened curds of sour milk. Jews for Cheeses call this “transmogrification.” Milk and Cheese call it “funky!”
In truth, Cheeses is of uncertain origin. Perhaps some old Jewish woman in a bare but tidy cottage first found a use for this dairy product gone bad. And she called it cottage cheese, and she saw that it was, well, maybe not good, but it was okay. I mean, she didn’t have to throw it out.
Today, Cheeses stands tall, despite the unbridled commercialism associated with this honorable food. Witness the atrocity called “Cheeze Whiz”, sprayed out of a can like some obscene day-glow graffiti, or the horrible “Velveeta”, a gluey-orange thing served unsuspecting high school students.
Yes, Cheeses is with us, everywhere, for everyone, all the time, right now or a little later, tomorrow and yesterday… forever. Cheeses calls the world home: England, Italy, France, Denmark, South America, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and, of course, the good old U.S. of A.
From the shores of California, with its mighty Montery Jack, a semisoft cheese, mild in flavor with superior melting qualities, to the French countryside of France, which is part of Europe, I think, where Trappist Monks chant over their Port du Salut, Cheeses is welcome.
No matter what bizarre political views you harbor, no matter how nasty your personal habits, no matter what your sexual orientation, no matter what dumb nickname you got stuck with as a kid (Scooter, Skippy, Fishbreath, etc.), no matter what’s the matter with you right now this very second, Cheeses is here. Ready to give you that comfortably bloated feeling, like when you were a wee babe spitting up on your mother’s shoulder. You were looking for a cheese chart, maybe?
With Cheeses by your side, cooking becomes a rapturous journey into the magical land of sustenance. Indeed, almost all of the “eating cheeses” have at one time been cooked, baked, stewed, steamed or tossed out as part of some culinary adventure. Let the adventure continue with this Southern delight turned snappish as we add some kosher hot peppers to one of the South’s favorite sons, Cheese Grits. (Thanks, Biker Billy, for allowing me to share your rapture.)
Biker-Style Cheese Grits -
2 tablespoons butter
1 or two or three or four (depending on how kosher you really are) fresh red jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cups water
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup quick grits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
In a 1-quart saucepan, melt the butter. Add the jalapeno pepper and onion, reduce the heat, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is tender but not brown. Add the water and increase the heat to high. Stir in the garlic, cumin, and salt and black pepper to taste. When the water comes to a rolling boil, quickly add the slow grits, no! no! I mean slowly add the quick grits, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cheddar cheese and serve immediately.
Makes about 4 servings
NOTE: If you like a thinner or smoother texture, add more water and cook a little longer. Put leftover grits in a greased loaf pan and refrigerate. Cut the leftover grits into slices and fry them in a little butter for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Okay, you get the idea. Cooking with Cheeses is fun. Except the part where you have to clean the pan of all that sticky stuff. But, remember the words of Cheesemeister Fatty Moon. Fatty said this. And this is what he said. He said, “It sure beats watching my rump roast.”
Cheeses is a living food, and like all living creatures, it needs a breath of fresh air after standing two weeks next to a cold, hard salami. Remove your Cheeses 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Peel away the wrapper, shoot your TV, and love yourself for serving Cheeses.
Saving Cheeses is simple — no mantras, no fasting, no dogma, no kidding! Cheeses’ home away from home is right in your refrigerator. But what happens if, despite your best precautions, Cheeses gets moldy? Simple. That greenish gunk isn’t really harmful. It’s nature’s way of telling you you screwed up. So how do you unscrew? Go outside, pick up your neighbor’s trash, save a frightened kitten from an impossibly high limb, scare away a burglar, use anti-perspirant every day, shoot your TV again to make sure it’s really dead, and, finally, cut off the offending mold and throw it in your neighbor’s yard.
A word of warning! Never put Cheeses in the freezer. Freezing damages Cheeses’ texture and flavor. Experts say the exceptions to this rule are Camembert and Liederkranz, which may be frozen for several months, but they must be served promptly after thawing. Just like Clinton and Dole — who cares?
Come with me now back to the golden age of Cheeses of Nazareth…
Praise Cheeses! Or not.
The River (not exactly Springsteen)
All dressed up…
The Tower (see Into The Mystic)