friday feast: the big cheese

“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.” ~ M.F.K. Fisher

Mr. Charles Cheddar Ghigna, our own Eminent Cheese Poet

Was it G.K. Chesterton who said, “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese”?

Clearly he wasn’t up on his Canadian poets, or he would have sung the praises of one James McIntyre of Ingersoll, Ontario, who’s known far and wide as “the cheese poet.” Who could forget (even if they wanted to) McIntyre’s masterpiece, “Ode on the Mammoth Cheese Weighing Over 7,000 Pounds”?

If Chesterton had lived long enough, he would have drooled over Donald Hall’s “O Cheese,” which Diane Mayr shared at Random Noodling last year. “Cheeses that dance in the moonlight/cheeses that mingle with sausages” — who could resist such free-spirited, sociable chunks of goodness? And who, among us, could ever turn our backs on the steadfast comfort of homemade mac and cheese, the golden brown delights of a friendly grilled cheese sandwich, the pull-apart-melty-string gooeyness of mozzarella married to pizza crust?

I’m sure Mr. Chesterton would also be happy to know that right here in our cozy Poetry Friday circle, we have a poet so enamored with cheese he’s written his own tribute. You may remember Charles Ghigna’s, “Lettuce Wrap, Let Us Rap,” or when he instigated our Peanut Butter Poetry Party a few months ago. Now Father Goose proves he definitely has a “whey with curds,” but when it comes to cheese, he just can’t seem to pick a favorite.🙂

cheese man print
Gourmet Cheese Chef print via studio petite


for Jama Kim Rattigan

There’s nothing better than Cheddar
Unless, of course, you agree
There’s nothing better than Brie.

But if you please, there’s a holey cheese
You may not want to miss
That’s simply known as Swiss.

Anytime you’d like to dine
At home when you’re alone,
Try a slice of Provolone.

A day gone by without a try
Is one I cannot bear
Of dear sweet Camembert.

From this list you must insist
The one fit for a Buddha,
A healthy slice of Gouda.

Your meal is not complete until you eat
The one that’s fit for any fella,
A creamy slice of mozzarella.

If none of these will do,
There’s always Bleu.

Copyright © 2013 Charles Ghigna. All rights reserved.

* * *

Camembert of Normandy via Wikimedia Commons

I like the democratic nature and international flavor of this poem — we’ve got the French, Italians, Dutch, English and Swiss represented here. Most of us have tried all these cheeses at some time in our lives, making us a pretty worldly bunch.

Still, as Bertolt Brecht once said, “What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?”

And I’d really like to know why the cheese stands alone.

What’s your favorite kind of cheese? I like all the classic comfort food cheese dishes mentioned above, but possibly my fondest cheese memory is noshing on the English cheddar that was delivered to our doorstep when I lived in Wimbledon, England. My roommate and I ate slices of the stuff on crispbread for dinner while sharing the day’s school gossip. Simple, basic, soul-nourishing.

English Farmhouse Cheddar via Affinage

* * *

poetryfriday180The lovely Anastasia Suen is hosting today’s Roundup at her Poetry Blog. Wonder if she likes mac and cheese? I’ve been liking Ree Drummond’s recipe lately:

Pioneer Woman’s Mac and Cheese (click for recipe)

“Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality.” ~ Clifton Fadiman


Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

58 thoughts on “friday feast: the big cheese

    1. Oh, thanks for the tip, Diane! And it’s right in Manchester🙂. Can’t wait to try it.

      Since you’re a big fan of Swiss, what do the holes taste like?


  1. Oh what a wonderful post! And how nice to know someone with “a “whey with curds” LOL! I agree that heated, ooey, gooey is the “whey” to go with cheese! I have been known to order pizza and then just sort of eat the topping and ignore the crust, because, well, you know: CHEESE!


    1. You’re my kind of person, Jill. The best thing about cheese is its exquisite meltiness. Think I’ll go pull apart a grilled cheese sandwich right now!


  2. Mmmm… Now I’m hungry. Thanks to our cheesy guest today for this melt-in-your-mouth buffet, and to our wonderfully cheesy hostess. While I’m deciding on a favorite, will someone pass the Brie on a cracker?


  3. Thank you for all the cheese lore, and lovely to have such a poem dedicated to you! I’m with its delicious theme — how can you choose? But I’d be there with you with cheddar delivered to the door. Thanks for sharing Charles Ghingna’s charming buffet of a poem!


    1. I still dream about that cheddar at the doorstep — along with cold milk in bottles with gold foil caps and a layer of cream at the top.


  4. I will share Charles’ poem with my writing group, Jama, where we eat lots of different kinds of cheese as we share and talk. I have one post where I compared the making of a grilled cheese sandwich to the writing process-fun to ponder-your lovely post brought it back to mind. Thank you! And-brie with fig spread is my favorite!


    1. A cheesy writing group? Perfect! I’m sure it inspires lots of Gouda work😀.

      You and Robyn have got me craving some Brie. On my grocery list for this weekend.


  5. Oh, dear, now I will have to say “whey with curds” forevermore. This is one of your most quotable posts yet, and Charles’ “democratic” poem is a hoot! And also a shopping list…

    I will not eat bleu cheeses, but everything else is fair game. Warm brie on a baguette. A cheddar and cracker snack. A spiced provolone, which is in the fridge right now.


  6. Whey to go, Jama! You turn EVERY post into a most delicious feast — a feast for the eyes, ears, and taste buds! You’ve got me up out of my perch here in the treehouse and running downstairs to the kitchen to make a breakfast of toasted muffins with marmalade and swiss cheese!

    P.S. Love the portrait of Charles Cheddar Ghigna. The old Goose never looked so good! 😉


    1. Breakfast? My, but we are late sleepers🙂. Does Paddington approve of pairing Swiss cheese with marmalade?

      Cornelius is happy you like the portrait. He just ate your beard and eyebrows for lunch.

      Thanks again for sending along another fun foodie poem. Keep ’em coming!!


      1. Ha! I like writing late at night, often staying up into the wee hours of the morning. Finishing up a new series this week.

        Congrats to Cornelius. Beard and Eyebrows for Lunch. Sounds like one of those edgy new picturebooks.

        Have a delicious weekend, my BFF/blogger/poet!

        Debra sends her love too.


  7. What a fun and drool-worthy post. Comfort poetry at it’s best! I visited Gruyere, Switzerland a few years back… thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Man, now I have to get myself to the store… should have read this AFTER lunch!


  8. Jama, I cordially invite you to come to Concord MA for the annual Crucolo festival. Yes, there is a parade to celebrate a giant wheel of cheese.

    Please come! We can go to Walden Pond, Sleepy Hollow, Orchard House. And of course, eat lots of cheese.


    1. OMG! Why haven’t I heard of Crucolo and this parade? Looks like so much fun. I do love Concord and once stayed at the Colonial Inn (heard some strange ghosty noises at night). I’ve been to Walden Pond and Orchard House, but not Sleepy Hollow.🙂


  9. “The cheese poet” — who knew?! Thanks for this, Jama, and for the celebration of cheese. We don’t get cheddar delivered to our door, but I’m astounded by how many wonderful cheeses there are here. If you ever come to Oxford, I will take you to the cheese shop in the Covered Market, and we we’ll swoon in delight together!


  10. We mustn’t forget ricotta!

    There’s a cheese for all occasions, isn’t there? Cheddar is my daily workhorse, brie is for special occasions, mozzarella for toppings, bleu for salads, Swiss for sandwiches, ricotta for Italian dishes (from lasagna to Margherita pizza to manicotti to cannolis).

    Also, there is cheesecake.🙂


    1. Oh yes, ricotta and cheesecake! Bless the person who invented cream cheese🙂. I see you have all your cheese priorities in place. Craving lasagna now.


  11. “Why does the cheese stand alone?” you ask.

    This discrimination is a clear case of lactose intolerance.


  12. Hooray for cheese….every kind of ’em! That recipe looks divine, Jama…and just in time to welcome home my son (he is a Mac and cheese devotee!).


  13. I’m glad Jean reminded us of CHEESECAKE, and I’ve got bricks of cream cheese coming to room temp on the counter for frosting a carrot cake! Glorious, versatile, lovable cheese! Thanks for a yummy post!!


  14. I, too, love the portrait of Charles Cheddar Ghighna. It’s the eyebrows that really capture his joie de vivre. Love his poem! I can’t pick a favorite stanza any more than I can pick a favorite cheese…


    1. Joie de vivre eyebrows! Green beans have reached a new level of sophistication.🙂 Seems most everyone who likes cheese likes all the different types. A good thing, I would say . . .


  15. I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t love — and any post that starts with a Mary Frances quote just has to be wonderful. I like grating cheeses, oozy cheeses, goat cheeses, slicing cheeses, smoky cheeses — just not fake, manufactured cheeses. Now I think I need a good grilled cheese with onion marmalade, mustard, and spinach. Yes, I’m a bit weird.


    1. You are a true cheese aficionado! I’m very curious about the grilled cheese with onion marmalade, mustard and spinach (?). I’ve thus far been a grilled cheese purist, just the plain and simple for me. Perhaps I should be more adventurous.

      I hear you on the manufactured stuff. To this day, I’ve never tried Velveeta. With so many great real cheeses out there, I don’t see the need.


  16. Delicious, Jama! I was 12 before I tasted cheese at my cousin’s house. I guess my mother didn’t like cheese for some reason, because we never had it at home. Now, it would be hard to choose a favorite. Except not Gruyere, since I got sick on it when I was pregnant over 30 years ago. So cheese makes a serious impression on me! Love the poem, too.


    1. Wow, 12 is quite old to be without having tasted cheese before. Glad you finally got to have some and decided to like it! Sorry to hear about the Gruyere incident; all it takes is one bad experience and that’s it. Fortunately there are lots of other kinds of cheese to make up for the lack of Gruyere🙂.


  17. Mr. Charles Cheddar Ghigna, is definitely the Eminent Cheese Poet. The poem is the perfect compliment for all cheesy snacks. I’ll have some Charles with that Cheddar, please. Oh…and an little Ghigna with my Gouda. And if I have to choose, I would love some pepper jack to go along with the poem, please. Why thank you!

    And thank you for a delightful post🙂


    1. Mmmmm, pepper jack cheese. Thanks for dropping by to nosh and savor Charles’s poem, Penny. Always nice to have another cheese fan join the fun.🙂


  18. I’ve become enamored of a gourmet cheese shop here in town, and when I make my weekly treks there, I always think of you and how much you would love it. Aside from the delicious cheese, the owner is wonderfully welcoming and encourages trying samples.


    1. Lucky to have that shop nearby with that great selection + a helpful and welcoming owner! Not easy to get good service these days. Cheesemongers are good people🙂.


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