Jul 19, 2015

The Ultimate Goal: Manigodine


Upon hearing the SCOTUS ruling legalizing gay marriage, I call some dear friends in San Francisco, a married lesbian couple, to celebrate. "Screw the most important civil rights moment of my life!," my friend screams at me. "Turn on the game!" I have to admit, I don't even know what sport she's talking screaming about. "Women's World Cup! France vs. Germany! And if France wins, maybe they'll start teaching their girls to play to soccer so there will be teams for when girls like Gigi and Pippa move there!"


I have to admit it's a little hard for me to get quite as excited, because I'm non-soccer person, in a non-soccer family -- though we were a little soccer-y until we moved here, and the lack of opportunity killed it. But I fully appreciate the sentiment that, just as I think people should be able to get married regardless of sexual orientation, I also think people should be able to play soccer regardless of gender. And to call it "football" regardless of nationality: it's just logical, people.

So I turn on the football game, right at the end, and realize this: I know so little about this sport, but even I have to admit that this overtime sudden-death five goal kick-off (whatever it's actually called) is very exciting. And totally nerve-wracking.

There are now a couple of girls recreational teams -- in all of Paris -- or so I've heard. This is an improvement, believe it or not. And now that I know France is doing well in the World Cup, I say to myself, "Ah, that explains it!": there are enormous billboards of the entire World Cup women's team plastered around the Hotel de Ville. I guess that the Paris government, led by Anne Hidalgo, the city's first female mayor, is doing its part to promote women in sport -- other than dance, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, and horseback riding, which seem to be the accepted "girls' sports" here in France.

Despite the larger-than-life billboards, I hear remarkably little -- nothing in fact -- about the Women's World Cup match, whereas when the French men are in it to win it, even somebody as non-soccery as me can't help but know about it with all the flags flying and messages written everywhere. The idea of girls' soccer (or, heaven forbid, rugby or basketball) is an uphill battle here in France and still, easily, more than 20 years behind girls soccer in the US in terms of the popularity and availability of the game for girls of all ages.

Back to the Quarter-final "match of the tournament" overtime thing happening in real time as I write this: can neither goalie stop anything?! They're taking turns, 5 for each team, with just one kicker facing one goalie. It's making me so stressed. We are at number 7 now, and all the goals have gone in -- 4 for the Germans and 3 for the French. The French Fox -- Wendie Renard -- has just made her goal, so now it's 4 to 4, and she's pumped. And so are the TV announcers, who are screaming about as hysterically as my lesbian friend in San Francisco.

And there goes another German goal. And... uh-oh... the German goalie finally stops one, and wins it for her team. By one overtime kick. The very last of 10.

This is sounding familiar, since the French men's team lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup. I'm sure many of you are thinking of the whole gamut of Germany-defeats-France jokes, but I'm not going to go there. And if you're wondering, I'm not going to touch the FIFA controversy here either.

The game is over, the tears are flowing. The French team is devastated. And the streets of Paris are silent. I mean really, really silent. But if I listen carefully, I think I can hear the sound of a million little French girls being signed up for more ballet classes.

THE CHEESE: Magodine

Manigodine is a small tomme (which seems a contradiction, but there you go) made from raw cows' milk. It's a small-batch farmhouse cheese named after the valley where it's produced, the Manigod, in Haute-Savoie. The creater of this cheese purposely made the name feminine, "Manigodine" in honor of the women who work on the farm.

It's related to a Reblochon, which makes sense since they are cheese from the same region. Like a Reblochon, it's both ultra creamy and ultra stinky, a fine combo in my book. The cheese is aged 6-8 weeks, during which time the crust is regularly washed with salted water. This allows time not only for the flavors to develop but also for the crust to develop its characteristic lovely, sunset-hued molds: pinks, oranges, cloudy white.


Not only is Magodine given a feminine name in honor of the French female farmers who help make the cheese possible, I also buy the cheese at the Marie Quatrehomme store -- Marie Quatrehomme being one of the very few famed French female fromagères and Meilleur Ouvriers de France. Her last name "Quatrehomme" translates as "Four men": I could see that as ironic, or I could see it as a sign of feminist solidarity and girl power: Marie can do the work of ....Four men.



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