The Food Of The Gods

Apollo

 

In many of my classes and presentations, I often refer to cheese as “the food of the gods,” and not just because of its wonderful and complex flavors, aromas, shapes, and colors. While not on par with ambrosia, the drink enjoyed by the gods of ancient Greece that also had the power to confer immortality on any mortal who drank it, cheese has indeed played a part in the rituals and ceremonies of the many religions that have been part of the history of mankind.

In Greek mythology, the god Aristaeus, son of Apollo and Cyrene, was taught by nymphs the art of cheesemaking and beekeeping. After mastering these arts, he then passed this knowledge on to mankind.

Homer’s sang the praises of cheese in his Odyssey and describes how the Cyclops was producing and storing sheep’s and goat’s milk and cheese.

In ancient Britain, the architects of Stonehenge would offer cheese, milk, and yogurt to their deities as part of their religious ceremonies, while keeping meat for their own consumption; meat was viewed as impure and not suitable for deities. Milk itself was viewed by many tribes around the world as being a symbol of purity because of its white color.

Cheese is also mentioned three times in the Bible.

And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp of thy brethren. And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge. — 1 Samuel 17:17-18

And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness. — 2 Samuel 17:29

Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? – Job 10:10

So if you ever questioned whether or not you should be eating cheese, I’m here to tell you that the answer is most emphatically yes. If it was deemed worthy of being offered to the ancient deities of Britain, given to man by a Greek god, and served to the armies of the biblical Israelites, then it should be good enough for us.

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If You’re Not Elite, Then Your Cheese Won’t Be Sweet

Cheeses

 

Cheese is a living food. No, I don’t mean that cheese is capable of rising up off the plate and dancing the mambo. And if your cheese is dancing the mambo, then you may want to consider cutting back on the wine you’re drinking with it.

By “living” food, I’m referring to the thousands of microorganisms (bacteria and mold) that play a part in turning milk into cheese. Nearly all types of bacteria will coagulate milk, but not all will produce a coagulated product that will look, smell, and taste good enough to become cheese. So you have to be selective about the kind of bacteria you allow into your milk.

When you make cheese, you are, in a way, hosting a very exclusive party. Sound silly? Well then let me ask you this. When you throw a party at your home, do you throw open your front door and shout to the neighborhood, “Hey, I’m throwing a party here! Everybody’s invited, and be sure to bring along your friends and relatives!” No, of course you don’t. Because if you did, then God knows what kind of riffraff and miscreants you’d be allowing into your home. When you throw a party, you privately invite the “right” kind of people – friends and family members whom you like and whom you trust will contribute to a fun evening without drinking all your booze or wrecking your home.

The same concept holds true for cheesemaking. If you left a carton of milk setting around for two weeks, you’d have a carton of coagulated milk, but one that would look awful and smell worse. It would not be something that you want to even attempt to turn into cheese. That’s because when you opened that carton, you invited every kind of bacteria in the air — the good, the bad, and the mightily awful — to come in and coagulate your milk. Any good bacteria that coagulated the milk into something tasty were overshadowed by the bad bacteria turning it into something disgusting.

When you make cheese, you only allow in certain kinds of bacteria – bacteria that have been scientifically proven will coagulate milk in such a way that it will produce curds that look, smell, and taste good. That is why we add starter cultures to our milk. These cultures contain these scientifically-tested microorganisms that will contribute to the look and taste of the finished product. Furthermore, certain kinds of cheeses require other types of bacteria or mold to make them into specific cheese. If, for example, you want to make Blue, Gorgonzola, or Stilton cheeses, you will need a mold — Penicillium roqueforti. Only Penicillium roqueforti can provide the bluish color and specific flavor that turns your block of curd into blue cheese. Want to make Swiss, Gruyere or Emmenthal cheeses? Then you’ll need Propionic shermanii bacteria, because they are the ones that form the holes.

So if you want to make cheese, then you have to become a bit snobbish. Don’t allow just any bacteria into your milk-house. Only allow the elite bacteria. The “correct” bacteria will give you the right cheese.

The Gardener Will Interview You Now

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How did your garden perform for you this year? Were you happy with the results of your labors? Did everything you planted meet or exceed your expectations? Or did you have clearly defined expectations to begin with – other than just a great garden with lots of vegetables?

If you’re not happy with the results from this year’s garden, may I suggest a new approach? Think of yourself as the CEO of Your Household, Inc. One of your functions as CEO is to provide enough nourishing food to feed the employees of Your Household, Inc. (a.k.a. your family). One of your initiatives for next year is to meet part of that food need with fresh fruits and vegetables, and one of your strategies for accomplishing that is to grow, rather than purchase those fresh fruits and vegetables. To make this happen, you have to hire a Director of Fruit and Vegetable Growth (a.k.a. a garden). This Director of Fruit and Vegetable Growth must be able to provide specific kinds of fruit and vegetable outputs to maximize the nutritional needs and the eating pleasure of Your Household, Inc.

How can you be certain that your future Director of Fruit and Vegetable Growth will meet expectations? Just as a company has to interview prospective employees to make sure that they hire the best employees that will perform the functions for which they’ve been hired, you must interview your Director of Fruit and Vegetable Growth to make sure that it will be capable of delivering the aforementioned expected fruit and vegetable outputs.

At this point, you may be thinking, “The Garden Troubadour has truly lost his marbles.” If you haven’t yet figured out what I’m really saying, then allow me to express it in plain English. You’ve got to determine exactly what you want out of your garden – what kinds and cultivars of fruits and vegetables you want to grow. Perhaps you are just starting to garden and you want to begin with the classics – tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Maybe you really have a hankering for fresh corn on the cob, and you want it to be as sugary sweet as can be. If that’s what you want, then in next spring’s garden, you may decide not to plant cucumbers and instead, use that space for corn. Furthermore, you’ll research available cultivars and perhaps choose a sh2 cultivar such as Illini Xtra Sweet, which can retain its sugar content for as long as ten days before that sugar begins to convert to starch.

Maybe all your tomato plants died from verticillium wilt in this season’s garden. Frustrating, no doubt, but you’re not yet ready to give up on tomatoes. So in next year’s garden, you plant a cultivar like Better Boy, which is resistant to verticillium wilt.

By now you get the picture. To have a successful garden, you have to think like a CEO. You have to know what you want your garden to accomplish for you, what fruit and vegetable crops to “hire” to make that happen, and how you’re going to develop them in your organization (a.k.a. garden).

It has been shown time and again that corporations that do not have adequate strategies for growth usually end up going out of business. The same is true of your gardening efforts. If you want your Director of Fruit and Vegetable Growth to succeed (a.k.a. provide you with bumper crops of colorful, flavorful, and nutrition-packed fruits and vegetables), then you have to “hire” the right garden and provide him with the inputs he needs to succeed.