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2013-04-16 12:09 PM
Some Mite Like It
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You "mite" like to check out the new Orphan Scrivener online, with our writing news, and Mary's essay All Creatures Great and Ghastly about unwelcome insect invaders. My own contribution is about ghastly food:
Some Mite Like ItAfter one of our typical home heated-up dinners I noticed that the ingredients included gorgonzola. Neither Mary nor I like to cook. To us, ingredients aren't things you measure, chop, or mix, but reading matter on the back of packages.
"Gorgonzola. That's cheese, isn't it?" I said, immediately activating the useful auxiliary brain called Google. Quicker than I can remember my Social Security number, I learned that gorgonzola is indeed a cheese, with bluish green veining.
"Whoa," I muttered, not quite turning to stone. "Blue cheese. And look at this, the varicose veins are caused by -- you're not going to believe this -- mold spores growing into hyphae."
Mary frowned. "It doesn't really say varicose does it?"
"Gaaa," I replied sensibly. "I ate mold spore hyphae!"
In case I'm not being clear here, I don't care for blue cheese.
"Tasted all right to me. At least it's not the kind of cheese where you have to scrape the cheese mites off before you eat it."
"Cheese mites! Don't say that when I've got coffee in my mouth," I choked, frantically wiping off my keyboard. "You're kidding?"
"Look it up."
Unfortunately I did. According to Wikipedia, mites clinging to the rind of Milbenkäse are consumed along with the cheese, which has a 'distinctive zesty aftertaste'."
"Well, I can believe it has a distinctive taste!"
Mites are also help age Mimolette, the grayish crust being the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavor by their action on the surface of the cheese.
"I guess we can be sure that frozen pizza is never topped with Milbenkäse or Mimolette," I observed hopefully.
"If it were, the mites would have frozen to death."
"Maybe, but a mouthful of crunchy hard-frozen mite doesn't appeal to me."
I really should have stopped researching, but you know how it is with Google and the Internet and Wikipedia. You start out looking for information on the most innocent subject and a half hour later you are deep in the realms of things man was not meant to know.
Such as casu marzu, otherwise known as "rotten cheese".
Found mainly in Sardinia casu marzu contains live insect larvae. To be exact -- although "insect larvae" seems all you really need to know -- the larvae of the cheese fly. These larvae resemble translucent white worms about one third of an inch long. (So they say, and I'm willing to take their word for it and leave it at that.) A typical cheese contains thousands of these larvae -- known to the non-cheese lovers amongst us as maggots.
Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I've never been into eating maggots. In fact, I was always been pretty much against eating anything while it was still alive. When my family went out to eat, the "very rare" (i.e. bleeding) steaks my mom ordered looked to me as if they were going to moo when you stuck them with a fork so I always demanded my steak be well done and then burned to a crisp, twice, just to be on the safe side.
Once, I admit, I ate a raw oyster at a street fair in Brooklyn. What can I say? I was young and stupid, the sun was hot, I'd had too much sangria. Sometimes when I remember it I can still feel the slimy mollusc sliding down...
Okay, so when it comes to food I've always had delicate sensibilities. I had to avert my gaze every time I passed the Rochester restaurant with the big sign announcing Tripe Pizza. Mary told me she liked tripe but I couldn't force myself to go there, not even when we were first married. I did however try to please her once by preparing another of her favorites, liver and onions. (Yes, we did try to cook once in a while until we gave up.)
As a child liver had revolted me and I had revolted when it was served for dinner. But, I told myself, now I am an adult. Surely I am mature enough to consume a few token bits of a cow's internal organ?
So I forked up a chunk and chewed, and chewed, and chewed. It was like trying to chew a sponge. I couldn't grind it up, nor could I swallow it down. Every time I tried to gulp my throat balked with an instant gag reflex.
Yes, as an omnivore I am a dreadful failure.
But not even tripe or liver can match the aforementioned rotten cheese.
Apparently connoisseurs of the finer things in life enjoy spreading the stuff on bread. But then they have to hold their hands over the bread to eat it because those living maggots can jump as much as six inches! Holy leaping larvae, Batman! You wouldn't want a maggot up your snout when you were trying to get your tasty treat down your gullet, would you?
Now I think I'll go and have some tasty Pepto-Bismol.
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