Jun 5, 2014

Quiet, Please: Chistéra

Since we don't have a car but do have huge wanderlust, we frequently find ourselves on trains. I've talked about they're efficient, fast, comfortable, and not terribly expensive. But have I also mentioned that they are practically as silent as the grave?
Well, except for our family. Much to Anthony's embarrassment, we are -- virtually always -- the loudest people on the train. In fact, we're generally the only people on the train you can hear. At all. I actually love the very rare crying baby just because it makes me feel less conspicuous.

I do wonder what people used to do on the trains before there were headphones, earbuds, iphones, ipads, ipods, laptops, movies, e-mail, and video games. We all tend to get motion sickness if we use any of those things on a train, so we do what comes naturally to us -- we talk and sing and goof around. And, since we are American and, well, who we are, we do it loudly. But, the truth is, even when we calm ourselves to very mild, perfectly respectable volumes, we are still the only voices we hear on the train and, therefore, susceptible to the occasional dirty look.

THE CHEESE: Chistéra

Chistéra is a mixture of pasteurized goat's and sheep's milk that hails from Basque country. No wonder, then, that the name doesn't seem very French.

It's named after the apparatus from Pelote, the "national" pastime of the Basques, which is something like jai alai. The chistéra is the basket-stick used in the game, functioning much like a lacrosse stick for catching and throwing. The game is something like a cross between lacrosse and squash.

The cheese itself is very mild with just a hint of sweetness. Perhaps it's because of the pasteurization; perhaps it's just the way the cheese is. Compared to so many of these other French cheeses I'm trying, it reminds me more of a provolone that you get in the deli in the US: simple and uninteresting, but, I suppose, not bad to add some moisture into a sandwich.


In general, I know which cheese goes with which story simply by listening to the cheese. But Chistéra says nothing to me. Absolutely nothing. It's completely silent. Just like French people on a train.


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