I have to confess that a couple of years ago, I was very intimidated when walking into a cheese store. I grew up in a place where cheese was mostly sold either from a stall at a market or pre-cut and plastic wrapped in supermarkets. Going to a store meant interacting with a cheesemonger that deﬁnitely knew more than I did about all those lovely cheeses on display.
Normally, when I broke the fear of walking into a cheese store, a very helpful monger would ask me, “Are you looking for something in particular?” Invariably, I would respond by saying “something sharp.” This to me, was the quintessential ﬂavor of cheese. Sharp to me was milky, salty, aged, and overall cheesy.
I later came to realize that sharp was not a speciﬁc ﬂavor but rather the ﬁrst taste on my palate. The “sharp” ﬂavor to me was more the memory of cheeses I liked that had a complex mix of many diﬀerent tastes and aromas, cheeses that I didn’t know how to fully describe.
After working in a cheese counter for a while, listening to my co-workers and experienced consumers. I reﬁned my vocabulary to describe the ﬂavors that I enjoyed, while I also learnt to pin-point those that I didn’t care for. I have read the many articles about Super Tasters and I have to say, that they always feel fake.
I would say that I have very good taste now, but it is from constant tasting and learning to describe and concentrate on ﬂavor, rather than a super-human ability to taste more. I know there is a science to taste. I have been in many classes to train my palate more; I am sure some of you have as well. However, I also know that many times, consumers need just a more complete vocabulary and some hints to describe the taste they like and a good cheesemonger should be able to pair that knowledge with a terriﬁc cheese.
Still, I know the anxiety is there for many of us, when we are asked to described something we like. I know, I am still intimidated when talking about wine. Beer, chocolate, honey, and even spirits I have down; but wine is my Achilles heel. But we don’t want cheese to be your weakness, and we want you to learn how to taste cheese. The team behind the Oldways Cheese Coalition created a unique, interactive event for everyone around the world.
Taste Cheese LIVE will introduce two cheeses to our audience. We will taste together and talk ﬂavor proﬁles. We will share information about these cheeses and you will be able to learn right from home.
On September 27, 2016 at 7:30 ET, we will be broadcasting from Boston. We hope you can join us that day to taste along with our online streaming. How do you participate? Simply head to your local cheese counter and ask for the two cheeses on the oﬃcial Taste Cheese LIVE menu, Parmigiano Reggiano and Le Gruyère AOP. Choose your own wine or beer, invite your friends and family, or join an event happening at a restaurant or cheese shop near you. It is free to participate. Pledge to join us on the day of the event, at www.oldwayscheese.org. And next time you walk into a cheese store, don’t be intimidated — all the cheesemongers want is for you to appreciate ﬁne cheeses as much as they do.