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Dec 24, 2014

Caroling Down for the Count: Lingot de Chevre Cendré

THE STORY:

I'm asked to join the choir for Christmas mass at St. Severin church, one of the handful of 800+ year old majestic churches in our neighborhood, and I sing gloriously about Jesus's birth right until the part where I walk off in the middle of the song because I am about to faint. Perhaps it's the 700 candles that are lit, or the huge rush of air going through my head as we try to fill the cavernous space with sound. Or, perhaps it's the ghost of my Jewish grandparents turning in their graves.



I feel so damsel in the 13th century as I'm about to swoon and crack my head on the marble floor. But I'm not even wearing a corset. I'm well rested, well fed, healthy as a horse, and haven't been dipping into the Christmas wine or spiked eggnog. Even with the 700 candles (a number I am making up by the way. But there are a lot...), I'm not too hot. Nor am I too cold, bundled in my scarf and turtleneck. The combination of French, Italian, and German songs might make my tongue tie a little, but generally shouldn't be responsible for the spinning head. Pippa, who is in the choir with me, does just fine, thank you.

  

So what could it be? I know it's not my imagination. I've fainted two times in my life and have come close a few others: I have very low blood pressure. But always before this, there was an identifiable reason, such as a medical procedure (once I fainted in the doctor's office, getting a shot). I'm not even nervous: I love performing and being up in front of people, so this makes absolutely no sense at all.

It's dramatic, and embarrassing when I walk off the stage in the middle of a song. But I know, without any doubt, that if I stand there one second longer, I will pass out. I've got the clammy sweats, and my head feels like a helium balloon.

This is the same church where my hair lit on fire during the post-Nativity scene candlelight parade a few years ago, and I'm beginning to think that either it's something about this church, specifically, or God just has an issue with me doing Christmassy stuff. Or....looking at the bright side of things, God just wants to help provide me with good Christmas-time material for my cheese blog.

 

THE CHEESE: Lingot de Chevre Cendré

A "lingot" is an ingot, or a bar, so it makes absolutely no sense at all that this triangular cheese is called a Lingot de Chevre Cendré. Did farmers making it get too tired to create a fourth side? Did they run out of rectangular molds? Do they not know what the word "lingot" means? For whatever reason, it's a triangle, lightly ashed, and no matter how many sides it has or should have, it's beautiful.


The Lingot de Chevre Cendré is a raw goats' milk cheese from Poitou-Charentes. As is befitting a goat cheese from the heart of goat cheese paradise, it's light and fluffy -- almost mousse-like, but somewhat denser. It's got a hearty dose of farm-flavor and a nice salty balance, while still being a creamy, mellow treat.

THE CONNECTION:

There's a triple connection actually, which is appropriate for a three-sided cheese. And the first connection is, in fact, because it is three-sided, representing the Father-Son-Holy Ghost Trinity that's so important to the Catholic Church and Christmas story. The second is that it's a light cheese -- fluffy and light -- just like my head feels like when I'm about to faint. And finally, it's cendré, or ashed, which is appropriate as part of the Christmas Eve mass in St. Severin Church where not only does somebody light approximately 700 candles, but once, at least (and once only, I hope), somebody also lights my hair on fire.

And wait! There's a funny fourth connection, representing the missing fourth side of a lingot! and possibly explaining why I seem cursed in this church: Uploading the photo, I notice that the file number for the cheese photo happens to be....666.

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