Mar 20, 2015

Eclipsing the Eclipse: Vermenton


I didn't know about today's total (in parts of the North Atlantic ) and partial (in much of Western Europe) eclipse until yesterday, and that's partly because I checked out this whole week for a vacation with a couple friends in Lisbon, Portugal. And it's a good thing, because on the way home this morning, I get lucky and see something I couldn't have seen if I'd stayed in Paris: an eclipse the likes of which won't be seen (in Europe at least) till 2026.

When I check in to my flight last night (on Transavia, which is a real airlines, not one that sucks your blood), I purposely chose a window seat...just in case. But not knowing which side, I just make a guess: 23A, since it is the available window seat closest to the front. This turns out to be a very fortuitous choice.

I have no way to look safely at the eclipse, but the weather helps me out. In Lisbon this morning, it is cloudy, but not too cloudy. About five minutes before the peak eclipse moment in Lisbon, as we are (delayed) sitting on the tarmac, a cloud passes in front of the sun. It is thick enough to make it easy and safe to look at the sun, but thin enough to let the light shine through. In short, it's the perfect natural filter.

I am the only person on the entire plane, as far as I can tell, who notices or cares. And I notice and care very loudly and excitedly, so it's not like I leave them in the dark (yes, that pun was on purpose).

Back in Paris, the sky is heavily foggy and cloudy, so much so that nobody can see the eclipse here at all. Our girls aren't missing out simply because of the weather, however; their schools both keep them inside (with shutters closed even) during the morning, because the children keep trying to look directly into the sun, no matter how much the teachers tell them they can't see the eclipse that way and will hurt their eyes.

Other schools do plan for the eclipse and hope the students will get to experience it, but they are foiled by the weather, just like the rest of the Parisians. The eclipse is completely eclipsed here by pollution and smog.

THE CHEESE: Vermenton

Vermenton is a raw goats' cheese named after the town where it's made, located in the Yonne department of the Burgundy region.


This farmhouse cheese is a medium-strength flavor, salty, buttery, and with a slightly nutty flavor. The texture is oozy and creamy inside, with a murky bluish, green-gray, and white mold exterior. It's a cheese you're rarely find and is one considered of danger of going extinct.


I'll admit that if I hadn't already used it, the obvious choice here would be the cheese called Le Lunaire. And where, I ask, is a cheese named after le soleil (the sun)? I'll probably find out tomorrow.

But since I need one, now, on this spring equinox/ partial eclipse day, I go with the Vermenton. I don't even know about the eclipse when I take the photographs of the cheese, but I think, in the end, that they look very eclipse-like. This one in particular reminds me of the eclipse -- just the bottom part of a disk defined by bright light and shadow.


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