November 08, 2005
Fine Cheese Can Be Quite Lowbrow
Posted by geoffrey manne

As a guest here, I know to be respectful of my hosts. And I mean to be – I am. So I don’t want you to think I’m being cheeky with this post. I’m not. I’m being quite serious.

Fine cheese. Like Gordon, I have a penchant for it. Why just the other day at the Portland Farmer’s Market I bought a delectable artisan lavender farmer’s cheese. It’s the sort of cheese Gordon would blog about. It’s a little like this one.

But should the highbrow cheeses really get all the attention? Some may be loath to admit it, but there’s some real quality in the lowbrow stuff, too. And, as it turns out, I can be quite lowbrow.

Take, for instance, port wine cold pack cheese food.

It’s delicious stuff. Really. Spread it on a Wheat Thin (a low-brow cracker, of course) and savor the piquant, creamy flavor. Or slather it on a crusty baguette and pretend it’s cheap-wine-soaked camembert. Whatever gets you over that initial revulsion.  Sure, it may come in a plastic tub. It may merit its own CFR entry distinguishing it from actual “cheese.” It may be Day-glo orange and pink. But it’s delicious nonetheless.

And there’s some incredible, lowbrow cheese-related foods that shouldn’t be neglected. We all know about Philly cheesesteaks and other lowbrow cheese-related sandwiches, but have you tried poutine? It’s – now stick with me here – french fries, covered with cheese curds, and topped with gravy. It’s a Quebecois delicacy, and, perhaps, "Canada’s most pervasive contribution to world cuisine" (whatever that means). It's so good, it's easily worth the 3 months each order takes off your life. Even without the fries and gravy (but with the addition of a little beer batter and oil) deep fried cheese curds may be the very apotheosis—the eidos, if you will—of low-brow, cheese-related cuisine.

(On a related note, this seems like a good time to mention that Montreal may be home to the most wonderful collection of junk food in the world.  In addition to poutine, there's smoked meat sandwiches, May Wests, and the Wilensky's special, each a stand-out in it's class).

I could go on. Suffice it to say fine cuisine is not necessarily haute cuisine.

UPDATE:  My friend Dave points out that I neglected to pair the appropriate wine with my recommendation.  He corrects the oversight.

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