Sep 10, 2013 Tami Scott Uncategorized
My Poppy loved limburger cheese.
But, as the story goes, he was only allowed to indulge in it after my Nina and mom went to bed. He would then break out some rye bread, onions and mustard, spread on the cheese, and, as I can only imagine because there were never any witnesses, proceeded to savor each bite with a long, slow chew to prolong his night-time pleasure — all by his lonesome. I do know he kicked it back with a Genesee beer to complete the Old World tradition.
For those of you who may not be familiar with limburger cheese, it’s quite odorous and some people (like me) can’t even get it past their nose without first pinching it. In fact, even with a pinched nose, I still have yet to carry out the deed.
The cheese originated during the 19th century in the historical Duchy of Limburg, which is now divided between modern-day Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. As I said above, it’s infamous for its pungent odor and is commonly compared to body odor. Yuck.
As I was researching this information, I read aloud to my husband the actual process it goes through to become this “appealing” spread. It starts out with a texture much like feta cheese — firm and crumbly. Then after about six weeks, the cheese becomes softer around the edges but is still firm on the inside. At this stage it’s described as salty and chalky. After about two months, it has a texture similar to brie, mostly creamy and smooth. Here’s the kicker. Once it reaches three months, the cheese produces its notorious smell because the bacterium used to ferment it is the same one found on human skin that is partially responsible for (get this) body and, in particular, foot odor.
My husband’s response? “So it really is a kind of toe cheese.” Yeah, this type of stinky cheese doesn’t sound terribly appetizing, does it?
Well, for some reason and one that I’m not yet aware of, people do have a palette for it and say that once you get past that pungent smell, it’s all good.
In honor of my grandfather, I am going to try this German delicacy next month when Canton Woods Senior Center holds its annual Limburger Cheese Party. The party takes place at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 and I won’t have to eat it alone, but with other’s who thoroughly enjoy the Limburger as much as my Poppy did. It’s too bad there wasn’t a support group back then for him. I think it would have served many a man and marriages well.
A large amount of cheese isn’t easy to get, so if you’re interested in joining me and the rest of the gang, you need to RSVP by either calling the Senior Center at 638-4536 or stopping by the front desk, and pay $6 per person no later than Thursday, Oct. 3. They order the cheese in advance, so by signing up and paying early, they’ll have enough limburger for everyone.
And with the probable chance that those of us with strong stomachs and a weak sense of smell actually like limburger, I’m sure Canton Woods will reveal their source so we too can share it with our families — or, as my Poppy did, enjoy a midnight snack on our own.