Dec 25, 2013

The Problem As I See It: Bleu des Causses


Bleu des Causses is an industrial cow's milk blue cheese -- a cousin of Roquefort cheese -- from central Southern France, in a part of the country known as the Massif Central and, more specifically, in the plateaus, which are called "causses" in French, despite the fact that "plateau" is, in and of itself, a French word. Bleu des Causses is aged at least 70 days in the limestone caves in the region (it's an AOC cheese), and usually 3-6 months. This long affinage makes for a fine, strong blue. The cheese is more ivory-colored in the summer and, appropriately, snow-white in the winter.

The slice we buy is cut off from a huge wheel which is about the circumference of a large dinner plate and the height of about 20 heart attacks waiting to happen. A whole wheel weighs up to about 3kg, or 6.6 lbs.

Like pretty much all blues, Bleu des Causses is absolutely delicious when paired with a sweet wine, and also when paired with pears. Either way, it's a fine way to end a platter and a meal, but strong enough that you probably want to eat this one last among your cheeses.

THE STORY: The Problem As I See It

There are actually two problems, as I see it, with Midnight Mass. The first is that it's at midnight. And the second is that it's a mass. Other than that, it sounds highly appealing to me, so I meet up with my friend Mei and her friend, and her friend's friend, to try to go to midnight mass at Notre Dame.

We are not, as you can imagine, the only ones with this idea. So the other problem with the mass is that even before the mass, it's just a mass (of people). We get there around 10:45, and the line is already very, very long with many armed police and temporary barricades. We hear the singing while waiting outside, as they project the service outside on a screen that is, of course, mass-ive. I am told by my Catholic friends that first comes the singing, then the mass will be about an hour, starting at midnight.

I am clearly in it only for the cultural aspect of the music, so once I realize that if I wait to get inside for the actual mass, I won't even get home till 1 or 1:30am, I cheerfully wave goodbye near the end of the singing, jump out of line, and go home to finish prepping for Christmas itself. So I do not actually get inside Notre Dame with the masses. But, on the positive side, at least my hair doesn't get incinerated in the process.
To accompany this story about the mass of people at Mass, I present you a massive cheese, from the Massif Central. (And when photographed on this plate, such Christmassy colors!)


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