Oh, how I miss thee my favorite government cheese. Your seemingly impenetrable solidity gave me caution on many occasions, yet I found myself drawn to the challenge of making you into thin slices.
I remember fondly my first solo approach to this bright orange-yellow block, for I was hungry and my mother was too busy to slice for me. There was foil wrapped on the end (as foil was a favorite cost effective protector of all foods in the house), and when I removed the foil what I saw made me question my hunger.
There was an odd discoloration at the end, not green moldy, but more so darker orange-yellow and hard looking. This butt of the cheese did not look even remotely soft like its other areas beyond the end.
I decided to poke the questionable end to attain some informed idea of its texture, for the crackled edge looked as if little lumber jack men had taken all of their tools and hacked at the cheese. Ragged mountain top peaks filled with nooks and crannies is what I thought of as my index finger ran across the hard end of cheese.
“What are you doing!” my mother asked me as she saw me fondle the end of the cheese. I instantly pulled my finger away from the cheese and figured I would make the cheese the focus of her energetic inquiry.
“This cheese looks funny? Why is the end all hard and stuff?” I calmly stated figuring the cheese would now feel my mother’s wrath, while leaving me with a slice of cheese produced by her.
“Gurl, just cut if off… there’s good stuff behind it!” she stated. But before drying her hands and walking away she added, “Just use the cheese slicer”. I guess my ploy did not work and I would have to tackle this on my own.
Our cheese slicer was nothing more than steel wire on a handle and attached to a decorated wood board. I had to use two hands to position the block on the board, but again I must add to my reader: I questioned the tenacity of this block. After poking at the hard end for so long prior to my mother’s attention, I doubted that the cheese slicer would be enough and I was correct in my estimation.
I positioned the wire about an inch from the end because the hard stuff looked like it ran deep. As I began to slice with one hand holding the block and the other slicing down with the slicer, my arm began to shake in struggle.
The cheese was winning. Determined to remove, what I had then named, the “protective barrier” I placed both hands on the handle of the slicer. I stood on my toes to give myself leverage and put my whole body into slicing down. Beads of sweat began to appear on my forehead in what felt like a losing battle because I was hungry dammit’ and just wanted a grill cheese sandwich, which was starting to look like a cheese sandwich after all the time it was taking. Seeming like forever, the slicer made its way through the cheese.
When the end fell, it sounded as if a tree fell in our kitchen. I stretched my arms out and raised them to the sky, as if I had labored all day to chop down a tree. Once I looked down at the fruits of my labor, I saw a problem. The damn cheese slicer was bent from all the pressure.