Sample More Cheese

IT IS IMPORTANT TO MAKE SURE that we each work to create the life we want, rather than simply letting life happen. New Year’s resolutions are part of this. A related idea is picking a topic or activity to gain mastery of during the year. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has famously followed this path, with a diverse range of annual self-challenges:

2010: Learn Mandarin. 2011: Only eat animals he kills himself. 2012: Code every day. 2013: Meet a new person outside of Facebook every day. 2014: Write one thoughtful thank-you note every day 2015: Read a book every other week.

By the time you read this, Zuckerberg will have announced his 2016 resolution but for those of us who haven’t yet decided on a project, here is one to try: Commit to sampling and learning about a new specialty cheese each week.

Certainly, there is no problem finding 52 different kinds of cheese. After all, Charles de Gaulle, when serving as President of France announced: Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage? – which translates as “How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?”

He was understating the case. Today there are more than 400 different types of French cheese and more than 900 known cheeses around the world. But to say this is to oversimplify. Multiple producers may produce the same cheese, and the taste will vary due to the milk, mold, technique, aging and other factors. So there are, in fact, thousands and thousands of cheeses waiting to be tried to gain an appreciation of the full range.

De Gaulle was expressing the frustration of governing a country of diverse parts and was utilizing cheese as an analogy for the diversity of France. Equally so, any individual who commits to explore the cheeses of the world is open to experiencing diverse flavors and understanding diverse people and places.

American specialty cheeses are booming, so you can start right here. Europe is refocusing on the U.S. consumer, so there are plenty of opportunities for sampling European cheeses. If you travel, you can always find a cheese that may be hard to find in the U.S. Anyone for Mongolian Byaslag? Often made with yak milk, the taste is a cross between Mozzarella and unsalted Feta.

With today’s focus on specialty cheese in major retailers, you can cross the globe without leaving your home. So set out to make 2016 the year of learning through cheese. It is an educational and delicious endeavor to undertake.