Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fromage-a-Phobia


The Attack of the Killer Cheeses
from Harper's Weekly, 1887; later hand-colored*

Everyone has a certain food that they don’t care for, and for me, that food happens to be cheese. I not only dislike the taste of cheese, I hate the look, smell, and feel of the greasy, runny, gooey stuff.

Let’s just call it an advanced case of Fromage-a-Phobia.

These are days of great tolerance in America. It’s perfectly acceptable to be an atheist, a Communist, in love with someone named “Trigger,” or even a fan of comedian Bob Saget. But it doesn’t seem to be OK to hate cheese.

Whenever I let slip my aversion, suddenly everyone about me becomes a cheese missionary, intent on converting me to the righteous and true path of cheese chow downer-dom!

“So glad you could join us tonight” said Len Farbman, a business associate with whom I wouldn’t associate if not for business. “In honor of the occasion, Sheila has cooked her No. 1 specialty! Ready, honey?”

“Here it comes!” called Sheila Farbman, foul smell preceding her as she emerged through the kitchen doors. “My very special Chicken a la Cheese, combining Parmesan, Muenster, and Limburger cheese blended in a tangy sauce. Also, for your sides, potatoes au gratin, broccoli gratinee, and apple sauce made the Farbman way with blue cheese!”

"Oh, my, how nice…” I sputtered. “But you see, I’m awfully sorry…. I’m afraid I don’t eat cheese.”

“That’s crazy --- everybody likes cheese!” croaked Farbman.

“Gee, I’m really, really sorry,” I stammered, growing increasingly uncomfortable with the toxic cheese fumes pervading the room.

“You’ll like this,” insisted an unfazed Sheila Farbman as she cut a world-class size piece of Chicken a la Cheese and plopped it squarely on my plate. Cheese strings connected to the serving dish trailed the piece all the way over to my plate, a good foot and a half in length.

How truly appetizing, that quality of cooked cheese to behave exactly like silly putty!

“C’mon, dig in, everybody likes cheese!” exulted both Farbmans in unison, Chicken a la Cheese strings flying from plate to mouth. “And for desert, another special Farbman treat --- home-made Triple Cheese Delight Cheese-Cake!”

I still don’t know how I survived the evening, though I suppose my 15 minute gagging fit may serve to inhibit future dinner invitations to the Farbman abode. Which is fine, because the prospect that I might be served cheese ice cream absolutely terrifies me.

On my way home that night, starving and gasping from the evening’s scant supply of breathable oxygen, I stopped off at a diner for a burger and a hit of fresh air. When the burger arrived – you guessed it --- a slab of slimy, smelly, sticky, yucky, yellow disgusting substance enveloped the top.

“Excuse me, miss,” I said to the gum-swilling waitress. “I ordered a plain hamburger.”

“Youse did not! Youse plainly ordered a cheeseburger.”

“No, that’s impossible,” I answered weakly, weary from a lifetime of persecution.”I’ve never asked for a cheeseburger in my life. I hate cheese.”

“That’s crazy --- everybody likes cheese!” she gasped, nearly swallowing her gum in the process. The burly restaurant manager approached me, rolling up his sleeves.

“C’mon, Mac,” he growled, “why don’t youse just try a bite?”

I have a dream! I dream of a day when cheese-haters no longer face discrimination and oppression.  A day when cheese-haters may proudly and freely and right out loud proclaim for all to hear:

"I hate goddamn pizza!"
 
Until then we must remain in the cheese-hating closet, the John Travoltas and Tom Cruises (if you believe the tabloids) of the Fromage-a-Phobia World!

There!  Over there:  that stranger at the Human Resources seminar --- which for one reasonable low price includes a lovely buffet lunch --- holding his breath as he picks nervously amongst the roast beef and corned beef positioned precariously on the same platter as the detestable Swiss Cheese. 

He may be "on the team."

Or there! That woman at the bris, performing an emergency cheesectomy on a pre-made sandwich, delicately extricating that most execrable substance from its foul and unnatural points of forced contact with the edible meat, lettuce, and tomato.

I approach, faint of breath but heart pounding with excitement.

“You too?” I murmur, looking nervously away.

“Yes,” she whispers excitedly, “I hate the damn stuff!  But please, I’m married!  And I have children!”

“Me too. But I’m discrete. Meet me clandestinely for lunch this week.  I want to not eat cheese together with you!

 No, it ain't easy being a closeted cheese-hater!

Fortunately for me and the others who live in wonderment at how the rest of the world can actually like this stuff, there is one true haven. One oasis of sanity and liberation from noxious cheese fumes, obnoxious cheese lovers, and those accursed words “That’s crazy --- everybody likes cheese.”

There are Asian restaurants.

And no one, except for maybe the Farbmans, has yet to find a way to make Sushi a la Cheese.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*Nah, this isn't really from Harper's Weekly! Since the print is yellowed, I wanted to see if you'd actually believe that it went back to the 1800's, and just like a typical cheese eater, you bit! Actually a very talented artist drew this for me about 20 years ago.

Y'know, even though you do eat cheese, you are one of the three people who occasionally reads my stuff on a slow day, and I appreciate that. We can still be friends!

What's that? You don't want to be friends any more? Everybody likes cheese? I'm a moron? That's not nice!!!
 
 
 

8 comments:

Alan W. Davidson said...

I nice look, Perry, into the life of a closet cheesaphic. Some graphic descriptions of the dish served at the Farbmans. I was thinking the cheese may have had enough stretch in it for you to throttle him with it...excuse me, must hurry off for my pedicure and fromage facial...

Perry Block said...

Alan,
Glad you liked it. I mean the piece, not cheese!

I find it incredible that humans beings much like me (two eyes, one mouth, one nose ---well, mine does technically count as just one nose) could enjoy something I find so foul.

Thanks for commenting, enjoy your fromage facial, and stay the hell away from me for at least 6 days!

Marisa Birns said...

No pizza? Everyone LOVES pizza! You've described mainly soft cheeses. I've checked and there are many hard ones, including one called Bra cheese.

Yep.

Perry Block said...

Marisa,

You would throw me a monkey wrench like that!

Unless "Bra Cheese" is shaped like, textured like, and available to me unlike .... I'm probably not about to eat it.

Then again, I suppose I could hold my breath!

Yep yourself!

About Jen said...

Mnnmmmmnnnmm.... Cheese-putty

Eileen Schuh: said...

Have you accepted Cheeses into your life?

Perry Block said...

Eileen,

Funny how often some of my non-Jewish friends ask me that.

I answer by telling them that although I appreciate that they love Cheeses, I can never accept Cheeses as my personal savor!

Cheeses Crepes already, does that answer the question?

Perry Block said...

Jen,

Mnnnnnnnnnnnnn ...... Sorry I somehow missed your comment until now, but ...... Mnnnnnnnnnn ...... I like doing this and ....... Mnnnnnnnnnnn ...... may be doing it for the immediate future ..... Mnnnnnnnnnnnn ........