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.