Cheese, Memories and Other Things Domestic

It is said that Oscar Wilde proclaimed the problem with socialism is that it would take too many evenings. What he meant was that politics, important as it is, should not be the focus of life… that what happens in our private affairs — the way we build relationships, rear children, take care of our parents — all this contributes more to what kind of society we have and what kind of people we are than anything the government does.

Remembering the essential nature of home and hearth is solace for Romney supporters, and it also is an important reminder for the President’s supporters. As William Ross Wallace wrote, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” It is the domestic that is primary, that is most determinative.

This magazine is about specialty cheese, but more so it is about fine cheese as a portal to graceful living. We posit that a graceful home, filled with food and love and learning, is a path not only to a more pleasant life but to richer, more earnest and fulfilling days.

With each holiday, we have special opportunities to build the kind of lives we wish to have and to be the kind of people we hope to become. It may be tempting to indulge family and friends with old favorites and, indeed, food carries with it memories. We can all remember when Grandma made her potatoes au gratin or macaroni and cheese or, perhaps, we came in from the cold and Mom had soup and yummy grilled cheese sandwiches, and we remember talking over our day with these foods before us and we remember the food, but also the people and the love. To want to pay that love forward is understandable indeed.

There is also, though, the opportunity to make new memories, to select fine cheeses from around the country or around the world — and play a little specialty cheese geography. My oldest son, William, recently turned eleven, and he has learned to help with the shopping. He goes up to the Cheesemonger at our local store and asks outright: “Excuse me… we are interested in trying something new. Do you have anything similar to a Manchego?” The person behind the counter gives him a little sample, he asks some questions and if he approves, we buy it. Then we let him explain to family and friends what makes the cheese special.

That makes for a special night and special memories. One can never spend too many evenings with family, friends, people we love and some really nice specialty cheese.