People insist on inventing new pronunciations for this word, god knows why. I bet you could find entire regions in which the predominant pronunciation of this word is kway-sa-dilya. "Can I get one kway-sa-dilya, and a side of ranch dressing, please?" To be sure, quesadilla is what linguists call a "loan" or "borrowed" word. In most cases, borrowings are modified so that they conform to the pronunciation rules of the new language, but there's something especially insulting about mispronouncing a word as seemingly widespread as quesadilla. I would feel way more sympathetic to someone who stumbles through "smoked trout nicoise salad with hearts of romaine and dijon viniagrette" than a word that is on the goddam Taco Bell menu. The truly mysterious thing is that the people who mispronounce "quesadilla" are inevitably people who look like they probably know the Taco Bell menu by heart. I can see why people are inclined to say "kweh-sa" or "kway-sa," because "qu" is "kwa" in words like "quiet" or "question." And I can understand why people of French-Canadian descent may be inclined to pronounce the "qu" as "ka" or "keh." I guess I can also understand saying "dilla" as "dilya" or "dillah" rather than "diya," but I'm relatively sure that these same people pronounce "tortilla" correctly. But maybe they don't. Maybe they say "tortilya." When you string all of the mispronunciations together, and you get things like kway-sa-dilya, or kah-sa-dillah, it just makes you sad for the state of civilization, for the future of language, for the likelihood that things that matter will be further eroded by people who simply don't pay attention. On the other hand, it's also a perfect example of people voting with their feet, or their mouths as the case may be. Which is interesting yet terrifying, as always.
If i could only give one piece of advice in regard to camping cheese, it would be this: avoid cheddar. the worst is the cheap, generic cheddar, which turns to moist, crumbly shag carpeting after about 18 hours. when i was camping in washington this summer, i brought a pound of fancy wisconsin three-year cheddar because i thought it would be dry enough to withstand three or four days of hiking. wrong! the cheese experienced a major malfunction sometime during the morning of day 2, and i miserably choked and gagged on it for the next week. the best camping cheeses are the parmesans and dry goudas. why didn't i bring them? who knows? it maybe had something to do with the fact that i was wickedly hungover when i was shopping. there are some within the backpacking community who believe that the cheese argument has been moot since the creation of individually wrapped mozzerella sticks. i would like to point out that (a) i can't find any documentation proving that those sticks are actually cheese and not some partially hydrogenated facsimilie, and (b) they have this nasty, flaccid, rubbery quality that is un-food-like and frankly repulsive. as far as the best camping cheeses: argentine parmesan is cheap and not too crumbly like its sister the reggiano. old amsterdam is clearly packed with the sweet sweet sodium that i crave on the trail. any of the asiago family are reasonable; i'm 'bout em, even if they're not as tangy or tasty as the others. remember, avoid cheddar. avoid it!
Now, I know that this is a forum for talking about cheese, but I want to take a minute and talk about cheese's great friend, bacon. Bacon's role in the downfall of many a vegetarian regime has been well-documented elsewhere, and that is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the recent article in Food and Wine about Captain Bacon, which features a tour of artisan smokehouses with the man who owns the Grateful Palate, which features more than one kind of Bacon of the Month Club. Instead of having a book club, why don't we have our own Bacon of the Month club, where we eat bacon and discuss its subtleties of flavor?
I would like to take back any negative statements I may have made in the past regarding the Rainbow Grocery's cheese department. It's a very good cheese department, with many cheeses I've only seen at Artisan, like mimolette and Sally Jackson aged sheep's milk, wrapped in chestnut leaves. On Saturday night there was a very friendly staff person behind the counter, ready to answer any questions. And he gave us free samples of marcona almonds, very tasty. I think my real problem with the Rainbow is not its cheese department but its status as a vegetarian collective and how in other places there would be an alternative to Whole Foods where you could buy bacon and lamb shanks or even a can of tuna for god's sake, but here in San Francisco there is no such place. Portland, Madison, they all have Rainbow-esque stores with MEAT. So it's not the cheese department per se, but shopping while surrounded by people who don't even eat cheese, let alone bacon. I always feel like a majority of Rainbow shoppers don't even particularly like food.
I think macaroni and cheese is the dish that first introduces you to how good cheese can be, and how much better good cheese can make something taste. Call it what you will — shells and cheese, mac 'n cheese, quattro formaggi, — the combination of baking pasta and cheese together is one of the best uses of cheese in the world. It's also a good way to use up any cheese you might have sitting around in the cheese drawer. I made it this weekend using fiscalini aged cheddar reserve, mixed in with a little cave-aged gruyere and some reggie. MMMMMMMMMMMMM.
I'll be visiting here in a few hours: Humbird Cheese Mart. I'll let you know. I'm not sure I did this link right.
I've always been a proponent of civilized living (and I think we are all agreed that cheese is the bedrock upon which civilization is constructed) and today, after an unextremely uncivilized wait at the post office to turn over things that already had postage on them but weighed more than a pound and were only going to two separate addresses but were in six separate packages (why can't the intern ever grasp the difference between international and domestic mail? why?), I realized I needed a good dose of civilized living. So I went to lunch at Metropole and had a nice sandwich. More importantly, I had a glass of wine with my lunch. Why are we not drinking wine or beer or cocktails at lunch? Because Specialty's doesn't serve them? What has happened to the heyday of the three-martini lunch? Here's the thing—it really took the edge off, that glass of wine. Civilization is ending (it feels like the entire known world is hurtling towards apocalypse) and so maybe we ought to be taking advantage of as much as the civilized world can offer us—drinks with lunch, an entire cake of Humboldt Fog to ourselves, the consolations of High Life.
Wisconsin researcher makes a better cheddar — Associated Press — Published March 12, 2003 — MADISON, Wis. — A University of Wisconsin-Madison professor says he's found a way to take the bitterness out of cheddar — a discovery that could save cheesemakers some serious bread. Food science professor Jim Steele said an enzyme reduces the bitter taste that afflicts low-grade cheddar cheese. "It has the potential to give consistency to the quality of cheese that we produce, and save us a whole lot of money,'' said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Cheesemakers start by mixing a medley of bacteria called a starter culture with warm milk. They sometimes add a second batch of bacteria, called an adjunct culture. To make cheddar, they mix in an organism called Lactobacillus helveticus, which smooths out the cheese's taste and reduces bitterness. Steele and his team have worked to identify what in the organism produces this desirable effect. They hoped they could then find a way to produce the effect in the starter culture, which would drop the cost and improve the cheese. The researchers sequenced the 2,400 genes in Lactobacillus in 2001, and Steele's team identified the desired gene within six months. Cheesemakers can now add that gene to starter cultures. Paul McShane, sales manager for the small Brookfield cheese company Roth Kase, thinks Steele's enzyme would take the mystique out of cheese production. "Cheesemaking is an art, and you lose something — a quality — when you try to take shortcuts,'' he said. But Bill Schlinsog, chief judge at this week's 2003 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Milwaukee, hailed the discovery as a weapon against bitter cheese. "It's undesirable,'' he said. "And if it can be avoided, then that's great.''
hey you guys: Who do you think would win in a rumble between Bi-Rite employees and Rainbow employees? They could meet down at the docks. No knives or chains allowed. I think the Bi-Rite employees might be stronger than Rainbow employees, because Bi-Rite employees probably eat more meat and have more muscle mass than Rainbow employees. I bet Bi-Rite employees panic easily though. Rainbow employees would probably coat their bodies with patchouli oil, which would make them slippery and hard to punch.
Cheese. ('chEz), noun, a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and usually ripened curd of milk separated from the whey.