In Antwerp on Sunday afternoons there is a huge market. I mean HUGE. Stalls of clothes, Moroccan leather, fries, meats, cheese, dried fruits and nuts, exotic birds in all colors, tiny furry squeaking snuggly hamsters… ❤
Then there is one particular stall, to which I was drawn not only by the free Gouda and Mimolette samples, but by the mysterious powers of….The Big Cheese.
The thing must weigh 70 pounds at least. It looks like Gouda, if I can judge by the wax casing it’s in. It’s like my entire body has been compressed, a foot thick, into a sumptuous, sensuous, curvaceous…immediately I was struck by the demons of self-doubt and slight lactose intolerance…
“But why would a cheese like that choose ME?” I asked myself.
I pictured it rolling down a hill, free to do whatever its cheesy heart desired, laughing at the puny humans it left, some perhaps flattened, in its wake…my heart ached at the thought that it might leave my life FOREVER.
Then I pictured myself, oh incredible thought, all five feet three inches of me, staggering home under the weight of all that glorious amazing incredible cheesiness that must be mine, all MINE….
Then I came to myself and wiped away the puddle of drool on my chin. That was no way to show respect to such a rare creature! I hesitantly reached out to touch it, afraid the very tips of my fingers would sully its glossy beauty. “I’m sorry,” I almost whispered…
Did such a siren have a name? I looked around for a label, SOMETHING to give it a positive identity, a name, to make it feel even a little more attainable.
But the Flemish, it seems, know their cheese, or maybe just their marketing skills. The old wisdom came into play here—the more mysterious something is, the more desirable it becomes. The sign they had placed next to it said simply, “Old Cheese.”
Fearing that His Old Cheesiness would prove too much of a strain on my slim budget, and my back, I placed a fist over my heart in salute. “I will come back,” I vowed.