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Mar 19, 2014

Enjoying the Penises: Chabis

THE STORY:

We start our love affair with the Dordogne in Les Eyzies (short for Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil) which, when pronounced, sounds exactly like "les zizis", meaning "the penises". Well, actually, it's more a kid's slang word for penises along the lines of weenies or willies. Or broomsticks, dongs, dingle-dangles, holy porkers, fiddle bows, jacks-in-the-box, kielbasas, Misters Goodwrench, one-eyed trouser trouts, pocket rockets, rolling pins, steaming hot kangas, or wingles.

 

And if you noticed those terms were in alphabetical order, that's because they come from the same Department of Translation Studies list from the University of Tampere, Finland that I discovered while writing a posting about pornographic puppetry in India. The name of this town has Pippa in stitches, and she keeps repeating it over and over -- sometimes in full glorious song. She even buys a postcard celebrating its wonderful nomenclature. For a little kid, it could only get better if the streets were called "Poo-poo" and "Stinky Fart".


Our main activity here for the afternoon is a two-hour canoe ride down the Vézère river, past La Madeleine. This is not, as the name suggests, a large butter cookie, nor a village where said butter cookie originates, but rather a prehistoric cave village for troglydites troglidytes trogladites troglodytes.

 

The town itself is fabulous, and we happily wander around after our canoe ride. We knew nothing about La Dordogne before coming here, booked the trip only on the recommendation of many French friends, and had no time to prepare. It makes our wandering slightly less efficient, but it also makes everything we do feel like a surprise or a happy discovery. One of our favorite things about the region turns out to be that Les Eyzies and many other small towns here are built into huge overhanging cliffs. In this case, when I say "built into", I mean it quite literally. Rows of houses use the overhang as both back-of-the-house and roof. Having paid for some major house renovations in San Francisco, I can see the benefit of that. It must cut construction costs in half.



We also take a paddle down the Dordogne itself, floating by many castles. The thing that amazes me the most, however, is the amount of green, undeveloped land we pass. I can't imagine an American area in the shadows of a great tourist area with all this prime river-side land just sitting there, wild.

 
 
THE CHEESE: Chabis
 
Chabis is a version of a Chabichou, both of which are goat cheeses made from raw milk. Either cheese is aged about 10-20 days and comes from the Poitou-Charentes area of western France.

 
The Chabis (pronounced "Shabby") differs from the Chabichou mostly in shape: while the Chabichou is generally shorter and squatter, the Chabis is a more elongated tower of a goat cheese. The Chabis itself isn't just one cheese, however; it comes in a wide variety of colors and textures: white, golden, gray, black, soft and creamy or hard and sliceable.

No matter which way you slice it -- or spread it -- the Chabis is a lovely cheese with a medium-strength goat flavor. Not boring but not pungent, either. It's very easy to like, assuming you like goat cheeses in general.
 
THE CONNECTION:
 
What I really want is a cheese named "Dingle-Dangle". Is that too much to ask? Evidently, it is. So, I'm settling for second best and pairing this story with a somewhat phallic-looking tower of cheese that comes from just north of the Dordogne. The cheese comes in many sizes and colors, and it can be either hard or soft. But it's just too bad it's not named "One-Eyed Trouser Trout".
 
 

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