Why does my cheese platter always end up looking like it’s been slaughtered by some manic heartless serial killer? Bloodshed! Cheese corpses laying on the battlefield, gasping for their last rich matured softened developed flavors, trying to gather their scattered pieces and hurting from the pile of rinds. In other words, what I’m trying to say here is Americans don’t have a clue as to how to cut the cheese!
One of my greatest sadistic pleasure is to prepare a beautiful cheese platter with full, soft and melodious tasting cheeses and introduce it to an all American audience at a dinner party. The platter is on the table. The cheeses are ready to be cut. The knifes are shinning. Worried looks start to be exchanged amongst guests. Someone has to start cutting the cheeses! [Insert Psycho shower scene music here]. The tension is palpable and beads of sweat can often be seen on pulsating temples. Sneaky guests will sometimes try to get me to start the ritual so I can lead the way. As any good host would do, I simply smile and politely decline the offer: “After you!”. [Evil laugh].
The French do not go to cheese cutting class at school and there is no secret Cheese Cutting Manual either. I guess it’s just another small useless thing we know how to do. So I never quite understood this fear of cutting cheese. It’s not that hard, it’s easy to learn and it’s no big deal… as long as you don’t make a mess! Treat your cheese experience like your own Mogwai. Remember Gizmo in the Gremlins? What were the 3 rules? Don’t get him wet, keep him away from bright lights and do not ever feed him after midnight. Same with cheeses, 3 important rules.
First rule in cheese etiquette – from the wonderful read of the Cheese Cutting Manual, page 65, Article IV of the Cheese Procedure… just kidding! – is that you have to leave your cheeses out of the fridge before eating them. Who wants to eat cold tasteless cheeses? Not me! Remember that cold hinders flavors and taste. Remove the wrapping paper, place your cheeses on the plate and leave them out to rest for at least 1 hour before serving them.
Second, your guests are not at the supermarket sampling deli cheese cubes. It’s a dinner party so do not cut your cheeses ahead of time. No need to make slices, cubes or small pieces, just serve your cheeses whole.
Third and probably most importantly, do not ever eat cheese after midnight… wait no, you’re not a Mogwai! Do not and under no circumstances dig the center out of a cheese and leave the rind behind. Rude! I’ve seen this many times and it’s so painful to watch. And it’s not only rude, it looks terrible too. Seriously, who wants a badly carved Brie with 2 floppy rind pieces?
Now that the 3 rules are laid out, how do you avoid making a cheese slaughter? Easy enough, always keep the original shape of the cheese and use 1 knife per cheeses. As for the rind and without creating any controversy in the cheese world and amongst aficionados, if it’s plasticy, if there’s a label, if it looks old or moldy, just remove it. Simple as that. If others eat the rind and you feel uncomfortable about it, just remove it. No need to ask any longer if you should eat the rind or not. A pile of rinds is not a bad thing as long as it’s on your plate and not on the cheese platter.
I kept the best for last, simple and absolutely wonderful explanatory drawings on how to cut various cheeses. Isn’t life grand? American friends, time to brush up on your cheese cutting skills here and stop worrying about being the next Freddy Krueger of the cheese course.
Keep smiling, you’re eating cheese. Say “Fromage!”.