Saturday, June 06, 2009

The mouse takes the cheese

Sometimes I wonder about the origin of events, especially for the oddball ones, like the Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake held every year near Gloucestershire, England. Do people sit around bored and come up with these ideas, or was there some wacky once-in-a-lifetime occurrence (like someone accidentally dropping a round of cheese down a steep hill) that made someone think: "Hey! Wouldn't it be absolutely hilarious to get a bunch of dumb daredevil people to chase a piece of cheese? Wouldn't it be even more funny if they chased it down a really steep hill?"

I think this particular race is even more compelling because the objective is cheese. Cheese has the enviable quality of rousing even the most sensible person into doing something he might never condescend to do otherwise. I guess it depends on the cheese. Not Kraft cheese squares, or those ubiquitous blocks of cheddar cheese lining the grocery store shelves, but cheese with names that fill your mouth: camembert, gorgonzola, boursin. Cheese with flavors that evoke pleasure or disgust--so intense as to leave no room for ambivalence.

My perception of the conference that I'm currently at in Asheville, North Carolina skyrocketed a million notches when I saw that they were serving good cheese at the opening night reception. Not those little squares of cheddar, swiss, and colby jack, but giant hunks of rich cheese (I think one was a kind of blue cheese) that you were free to cut into. I had to restrain myself from carving off fistfuls of cheese.

It's cheese. What else is there to say?

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