This year for Christmas Eve my husband and I decided to stay in, open a nice bottle of wine and have a home cooked meal. Though my family is Jewish, I grew up celebrating Christmas. My father is from London and apparently over there, everyone has a Christmas tree, has a big Christmas feast, eats stinky stilton and finishes the evening off with Christmas pud that is lit on fire. (Note, I don’t know if any of what I just said is true or not. Because this is what my family did, when I was little I assumed this is what all Jewish families from London did and have stuck to it ever since.)
I wanted to try to recreate what I grew up with so that my husband could experience just how amazing the traditions are. I wanted prime rib roast, Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes so that my kitchen smelled like my grandmother’s. I wanted to find some stilton and sip on port.
I found a few simple recipes for the main meal (see links above), but needed to pick up some cheese so I went to my local shop and asked for some stilton. The gentleman behind the counter said, “Oh, you like stinky, huh?” To which I replied, “Yes. I like the stinkiest, most offensive cheeses.” So he let me try something that he deemed “very special”. And boy, was it. As the sample neared my nose I felt like I was transported to a cow farm. It reeked of manure. I mentioned this to the cheese man and he said, “Yup. You hit the nail on the head. Here’s the description.” He handed me the card that was perched on the round of stink. “Sure this organic beauty smells like warm manure…” I read aloud. I popped the gooey cheese into my mouth and was more than happy with the taste. It was sweet and nutty and the texture was absolute perfection.
I took home a 1/4 lb and after 5-minutes of being home, this conversation took place:
Neil: What smells like shit?
Me: Ugh. Don’t be so vulgar. It’s the cheese. And it’s manure.
Neil: Isn’t manure shit?
Me: Well, when I’m talking about something that I’m going to eat I’d like to not describe it as shit. Manure makes me feel better.
Neil: You keep telling yourself that.
Needless to say, my husband did not enjoy the cheese. I demanded we save the uneaten portion. Two days later he demanded we throw it out since our fridge smelled like shit. “It smells like manure!” I cried. “Babe, manure or not, it smells like dung in our fridge.”
He was right. I sadly threw it out. Today at the cheese shop I picked up some not-so-offensive cheeses, but did have a tiny sliver of the manure milkiness to satisfy my taste buds and avoid offending my husband.