Mar 10, 2015

Every Day's a Good Hair Day: L’Elgines


Paris -- city of light, city of love, and city of very hard water. It's so hard it's practically crunchy, laden as it is with calcium and magnesium. And even though this is supposed to be deadly for hair health, for whatever reason, my hair is great: think Lady of Godiva, or Rapunzel. My hair has never been healthier and curlier (which I aim for, given that I'm not planning to brush it anytime soon). I feel like every day is a Good Hair Day. Why would hard water make my hair look better, defying the conventional wisdom? I'm no scientist; I'm the one who once announced, "Sound is unidirectional."

But I can tell you that the hard water is obviously not great for the dishes. Here are the glasses (yes, old yogurt jars) we've been using in the bathroom as our rinse cups. That means the water we're putting in them is straight from the faucet, and unfiltered. As you can see. This is just after they've come out of the dishwasher, mind you. So that didn't seem to help much.


We even have a special thingy that looks like a Brillo pad donut that goes into the tea kettle to keep it from getting encrusted with calcium. I'm assuming the calcium goes onto the steel donut, which has a lot of surface area, instead of the kettle itself. How would the calcium know to end up there instead of the tea kettle? It's a mystery; I'm not very good at science, remember?

This morning I go to take a shower after exercising. As the water goes from cold to freezing, I remember the little notice that's been taped up downstairs in the lobby saying that the gas would be cut off today while they work on the city lines. I'm also overdue for a haircut; I meant to get one about a month ago but have been sidetracked with school vacation, rainy weather, kids taking it in turn to stay home sick from school, and my own sore throat. So, all in all, I figure my hair looks about as bad today, brushed into greasy pigtails, as it's ever going to look. And yet I know I'm lucky I've still got it, and that I didn't have to lose it in chemotherapy for my breast cancer. So, all in all, it's just another Great Hair Day in Paris.


L'Elgines is a raw, goats' milk, farmhouse cheese from the village of Joursac in the department of Cantal in the region of Auvergne. As departments go, this is a pretty prestigious one to be from, if you're a cheese. But the Elgines is nothing like a Cantal. Where a Cantal is a hard, Cheddary, nutty, big wheel of a cows' cheese, an Elgines is a small disc of soft, goopy goats' cheese wrapped in a delicate toad skin crust.

It's a mild -- but not boring -- and lovely goat cheese. The cheese has a hint of wet animal fur (and to me, that's a good thing) that reminds me of the farm. It's thick and creamy, a thirst-inducing cheese, and one that cries out to be spread in a thick slab on bread and then drizzled with honey.


Besides sounding like the name of a shampoo ("Elgines -- what the best Paris salons use for that je ne sais quoi!"), Elgines is -- like our water -- chock full of calcium. Sure, I know what you're thinking: "But that would be true of any cheese!" And you are, of course, absolutely correct. I am fobbing off a cheese here that I tried a while ago but haven't been able to connect to a story. Ha, ha! I may not be great at science, but I've got this cheese-pairing thing down pat.



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