Thirty years ago, I was working on a kibbutz, looking after the cows, and one day I had an idea.
I suggested they market a brand of cheese and call it ‘Cheeses of Nazareth’. For some reason they didn’t go for it.
I like cheese, but only if it’s really stinky. So when a friend took me to La Fromagerie in Marylebone and I entered the cheese humidor, I was in cheese heaven. It was like a cigar humidor, only bigger and freezing – even colder than outside on the street.
“How can I help you?”, the French cheese salesman asked me. He had grown up on a farm where his father made – you guessed it – cheese.
There must have been 500 different cheeses. “I want the stinkiest cheese you’ve got”, I said. His eyes lit up. “This is the one for you,” he said. Walking over to the corner of the room, he stood a little distance from a table and pointed to a round box. In a hushed, almost reverent, voice he said: “This won the Grand Prix for the stinkiest cheese in the world. Look at it…but don’t go too close.
“You want to know why we keep it so cold? Heat can be dangerous for this cheese. A Japanese man, a professional cheese tester, was carrying a large piece in Tokyo, in 40 degrees I hear, and you know what happened?”
“No, what happened?” I asked.
He suddenly looked grave. “It exploded”, he said.
“The cheese exploded!? C’est incredible!”
“Oui,” he said.
“Was he killed by the cheese?”
“No, he survived.”
Naturally, I had to buy some.
“Remember. Keep it in the fridge,” he said.
“I’ll try”, I said as I paid for the killer cheese. I hadn’t ever thought of cheese as being associated with violent death before.
Lily was doing her homework two days later when I opened the fridge.
“Dad! What’s that terrible smell!? It’s stinking out the whole flat”.
“Do you want some cheese, darling?” I asked, carrying it very carefully in both hands in front of me.
“No! Its making me sick! It smells like smelly feet.”
It was triple wrapped but the smell was overpowering.
“Dad, take it away or I’m going out!”.
I went upstairs onto the roof. I put the cheese down and opened the package.
I was sitting alone eating the world’s stinkiest cheese when my neighbour opened her door onto her roof deck.
“What’s that terrible smell?” she asked. “What are you doing out here? It’s minus five degrees. It’s freezing. Are you crazy?”
“I’m eating my cheese”, I said.
“Would you like some?”
“It stinks,” she said.
“I know,” I said. “It’s great isn’t it?”
I’ve now been in bed with a bad cold for three days. I rang my GP.
“I’ve caught a cold from a cheese.”