22 November 2008

Blue Cheese

My cupboards and refrigerator are filled with items that were not part of Grandma Annie's kitchen, although my father bought them from time to time. Among those items are three staples: Red peppers, black olives and blue cheese.

The diet of my youth was relatively bland: Meat and potatoes mostly, accented by salads, side vegetables and bread.

My mother avoided many of the foods my father liked, and so never served them to me and my siblings. Mushrooms are among them. She still wonders why we all love them, and assumes its a generational thing. Perhaps it is.

Garlic, my mother often reminds me, was something odd and foreign and exotic. I have this idea that World War II played a key role in brining garlic to small-town America. How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've eaten garlic, ya know?

Many of my acquired tastes were acquired when I cooked with my first college roommate, the American-born daughter of French parents, and explored Chicago restaurants with an early boyfriend (Steven, are you still a foodie?).

I learned to love Greek food, Yugoslavian wine and German beer, thanks to these and other college friends. We fancied ourselves gourmets and gourmands, cooking together, tring to outdo each other and exploring new ethnic restaurants. While our peers were expanding their record collections, we were buying small kitchen utensils that made exotic meal preparation easier along with mustards, jams, and exotic rice mixes.

Along the way, I also acquired a passion for red peppers (well documented on this blog) and black olives (a must for any tuna salad).

One of my favorite foods is blue cheese. I've used it in sweet dishes but mostly I enjoy it in salads.

At a recent tasting when a restaurant owner I knew was trying out a prospective chef, I tasted a simple salad of blue cheese, roasted walnuts and Granny Smith apple with an apple vinaigrette. It was really wonderful and elegant.

I bought some blue d'Auvergne in France and made a similar salad. This particular blue, made in the Massif Central area is creamier (and to my palate, gentler) than the typical blue cheese found in American supermarkets. I loved its subtle taste, and felt it better suited to warmer weather dishes (blue cheese is usually reserved for cold weather, at least in my life).

It's one more taste I have acquired. But I am curious. What tastes are new to your palate?

10 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Blue cheese is a relatively new love for me -- perhaps only in the last 10 years or so. Same with hot sauce -- perhaps 15 ago, I first began to develop a love of hot and spicy food. Can't imagine what I ate before that.

Judy said...

Hi Mimi. Thank you so much for visiting. I was tickled pink!! I grew up eating ordinary unexcitng meals. Now I eat most everything. I love to cook and use new ingredients. My grandson always says that I cook weird things but they are always good. In fact he thanks me for introducing him to new foods. He even likes to cook!! That is a complement.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Lydia, I am also drawn to hotter foods these days. Wonder what this means - if anything?

Judy, I am trying to get to other blogs more often, I try to do 3-4 a day. I will return!

breadchick said...

Blue cheese has always been part of my family's eating habits, thankfully!

What I didn't grow up with is lamb and the only time I had it after I left home was when an old beau made leg of lamb as part of a seduction dinner (he over cooked it and it wasn't very good).

Since then I've grown to love lamb.

Sorina said...

Hi I am new to your blog and I just wanted to say how much I’m loving it

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

BC, I had lamb but no blue cheese! (M father had it, but my mother hated it so we kids were turned off to it early on. I do not think she has been converted yet!)

I love lamb.

Welcome, Sorina! Thanks for the visit and I hope you return to become part of the conversation.

This blog really adds a lot to my life.

MaryRuth said...

The blue/walnut/apple salad is one of my favorites too. Especially if the nuts are toasted with a sweet coating.
I grew up eating good ol' WI food: bland, but good.
My epiphany food is cilantro. When I first moved to California I was served a chinese chicken salad containing cilantro--I thought it tasted like soap! Then I had some carnitas tacos with cilantro--oh my! what a revelation! Now I can't get enough.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

MaryRuth, I had the same experience with cilantro. My first taste of it was when I went off to UW-Madison. I too thought it tasted like soap. Now I love it, especially in pico de gallo and salsa.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

When we were 1st married, my husband loved bleu cheese dressing...Marie's Bleu Cheese Dressing. At the time, I couldn't stand the smell or looks of it. Same with sour cream. After a bit, I decided to try it...love at 1st bite. Now, instead of bleu cheese dressing, I prefer Julia Child's simple vinaigrette on my salads, sprinkled with some good bleu cheese.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

Cyn, I try so hard to do vinaigrette instead of creamy dressings! The truth is, I like the creamy stuff.

I am still trying...