Say Cheese

CameraEvery photographer, professional or homespun, in my growing-up years insisted that the posed subjects say “Cheese” for the widest smile. This was true for my family, except for my father who never smiled in pictures.

He loved sharp cheddar cheese, but it was never served at our table. He sat on the back steps, narrow-brim black hat tilted away from his pale face and greenish-gray eyes, and lifted thin yellow slices from the flat side of his pocketknife to his mouth. When he finished, he ran water from the garden faucet over the knife, wiped it on his handkerchief, click it closed, and dropped it into the right front pocket of his work pants. This selfishness puzzled me until I learned after his death that Mama embraced Velveeta* but refused to serve or cook with real cheese because the odor made her nauseous. As a new bride, I chose chunk cheeses as snacks and added other varieties when I shopped at the military Commissary. I made Pimento-Cheese sandwiches, sprinkled Parmesan on Italian dishes, and crumbled blue cheese on salads.

Now the European Union (EU) has requested that U.S. manufacturers stop using product names that originated in Europe. High on the list is Parmesan cheese from Parma, Italy. The EU also hints that it may ask the U.S. to discontinue other names such as Greek yogurt. Imagine foodies flocking to the dairy case and finding a new product named American yogurt.

Beyond shopping, there will be score of revisions or disclaimers for recipe books and memoirs. I’m drafting mine now.

To reflect historical accuracy, the author’s use of the word cheese refers to U.S. dairy products before the current U.S./EU trade agreement. However, the smile in the author’s photo was prompted by the word “Velveeta”.

Velveeta courtesy of Wikipedia

Velveeta courtesy of Wikipedia


*Velveeta, a pasteurized cheese product, was created in the U.S. in 1918 by Emil Frey, Monroe Cheese Co., Monroe, NY, and later sold to Kraft in 1923. It is now labeled as a pasteurized cheese product.

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4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Events, Reading, Writing

4 responses to “Say Cheese

  1. The thing about Velveeta is that I always look at that glob of cheese and wonder how something that tastes so icky if you eat a plain slice of it, can melt into such amazing sandwiches and dips.

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