Friday, July 10, 2009

Tales of a Curd Addict

(Sorry to be sideways again; the camera I bought in Dubai Duty Free to replace the one that was stolen from a pub in London in December is crashing and burning and doing strange things, like making pictures turn sideways.)

I'll finish my reflective blog posting about New Zealand soon. But first I want to talk about cheese curds.

I'm addicted to them.

Luckily, they aren't illicit, and my addiction won't send me to a rat-infested cell in Bangkok or force me to get pregnant in a Lao prison to avoid a death sentence for drug smuggling. But they will keep me hanging around a cheesemaking room longer than is healthy or helpful.

While working at Isle of Mull Cheese this past June, I timed my second and final break of the day to guarantee that I would be around the cooling table to score some loose curds before they were scooped into molds or cleaned away with a very hot water jet. Once I came over to the cooling table too early for my score and nearly caught my hand in one of the blades that turns the curds to mix in the salt evenly. My alarmed coworker told me I should wear a bell so that he would know when I was approaching.

Munching salty and squeaky curd that was still gently oozing warm whey was the highlight of my day and I allowed myself to think (probably erroneously) that doing so was my right--the payoff for working in the dairy.

A week ago today was the last time on my Great Cheddar Adventure that I got to eat cheese curds straight from the cooling table (see sideways photo above). Almost more than I'll miss an unlimited supply of fresh, unpasteurized milk and merry beers with my coworkers in Mull, I am going to miss those cheese curds.

My addiction for the freshest curds (not the ones sold in plastic bags in Canada) might send me back to work in a dairy. In the meantime, I'll dilute my dairy desires by drinking whisky with Deidre in Scotland. (We're on Shetland right now).