The blur of Thanksgiving week


Oh Thanksgiving, the annual American food holiday… whatever one’s political take on it it’s the traditional biggest single-day food event of the year for your beloved grocery workers.

I worked 9 straight days before the holiday (partly because I had taken the weekend before that off to drive to SoCal) so if I owe you a phone call or email, feel free to remind me. It was kind of a daze. Here are some highlights:

1. The failure of the American educational system: I understand people being a little shaky when they are entertaining their pregnant friends for a food holiday. However the lack of basic science among these people is truly frightening. Witness this exchange:

Thanksgiving Host: “I need a Gruyere for a recipe but I need one that’s pasteurized. I have a pregnant friend coming over.”
Me: “All real Gruyere is made from raw milk.* What are you making?”
(TH describes a casserole that will cook in the oven for over 45 minutes)
Me: “Well, you don’t really need to worry about it then. First, the curds for Gruyere are cooked for a long time before the cheese is made, but even with a truly raw, aged cheese, if you bake it ‘til the cheese bubbles for awhile, there’s no worry about safety. Any potential food borne pathogens would be killed by that.
TH: Look, I don’t want to argue. Just show me a pasteurized Gruyere.

(For the tenth straight year I brought my camera to work to document the craziness and then was too busy to take any pictures. Still, I wanted something to break up the text. This is what we had on sale in November)
cheese sales november 2009

2. Reps who are bored because their work is done: I understand that the week before Thanksgiving is a down time for other people. But please don’t come in to the store without an appointment the week before a holiday and try to sell me new products. It’s annoying!

2a. Immediate demands for action on things that are someone else’s fault I have one small company that just refuses to act in smart, professional ways. Generally I find it endearing, but the fact that they refuse to send invoices with their orders is annoying. Luckily I’m honest, because they don’t seem to keep business records. Sending an email that basically says, “Here are all the invoices for the last 3 months, please see which ones you’ve paid, and pay the ones you haven’t” will not be well-received any week, but especially this week. The fact that your “neighbor” sometimes gets your mail and cashes your checks is not an excuse.**

3. Misleading media on cheese The fact that many people think Humboldt Fog is a blue cheese*** is a constant cheese worker correction. No big deal. But, somewhere this year, someone must have referred to it that way somewhere in the media. In the same way that all of a sudden 20 people ask for mascarpone in the same day because it was in a Food Section recipe, people came in asking for Humboldt Fog Blue. I thought it was just me, but Sweet Cheezus and Ilipodscrill confirmed that they had the same experience too. The best was the person who asked, ‘Humboldt Fog is the same thing as Pt. Reyes Blue, right?” If only they’d added “and it’s made by Cowgirl Creamery, right?” they would have hit the most common local cheese mistakes in just one sentence.

Because I was cranky and a Californian, I replied, “You know Humboldt County is about 200 miles from Pt. Reyes, right?” If you are reading this, Bay Area Transplant, sorry for my tone!

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can remember right now. Who had time to write things down last week? Not cheese workers, that’s for sure.

*Honestly, this is why I like to carry the Rothkase “Gruyere”. First off, it’s a pretty awesome cheese. Secondly, even though I am not really down with it calling itself a Gruyere since it is not from the Alps, the fact that it is not made with raw milk makes it the default pregnancy and compromised immune system cheese for that type of cheese and keeps me out of arguments about basic science.
**as it turns out we had paid (and checks were cashed, possibly by the “neighbor”) every invoice more than 15 days out.
***That’s ash, not mold. Isn’t is pretty?

8 responses to “The blur of Thanksgiving week

  1. You have our Duet! And on sale for the holiday!I love ya oh, CheeseMonger! Now can I have a piece of brie that my daughter won’t gouge the center out of please? 🙂 And I wold love to try some PT Reyes Humbolt Mist Blue by Cowboys Dairy…..but is it pasturized?

    • Ha! I don’t think it’s your Duet, sorry. This one is made on a Christian rehab farm in Missouri.

      But I’ll special order you one of those Mists for sure.

  2. Hmm, I didn’t know that pregnant women weren’t supposed to eat raw milk cheese.

    • The FDA advises against eating soft raw milk cheese if a person is pregnant or has a compromised immune system. But, people make their own choices…

  3. We had a lot of European folks coming in asking for very young raw milk cheeses, and then giving waggly eyebrow when I explained that those are not gonna be found at most cheese shops in the US. I wanted to add, “let alone those that are in liquor stores” but I held off.

  4. Those crazy Europeans! Eating all those raw milk cheeses!
    Humboldt Fog Blue: I think this happens when you leave in the drawer WITH the Pt. Reyes…
    I actually ran into this, too:

    http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/paired-humboldt-fog-blue-cheese-with-ficoco-spread-080787

    http://www.dishola.com/dishes/view/1996

    • Those are perfect examples. I actually just read somewhere else on the web that Dutch Gouda naturally turns orange as it ages!

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