for the love of cheese
During our layover in Amsterdam, we stocked up on two crucial items – chocolate and cheese. The former was meant to supplement D’s interpersonal skills to ensure that he quickly made allies among his office mates. The latter was entirely for our own consumption. We had heard stories of FSOs (Foreign Service Officers) who brought entire coolers full of frozen cheese to post in lieu of more traditional luggage. After tasting the local dairy offerings we cannot blame them.
S is convinced there is no rhyme or reason to the social sponsor matching process, and that the joys of sponsorship are bestowed at random on anyone who happens to walk by the door of the Community Liaison Office (CLO) and can be coaxed into picking up new arrivals from the airport and stocking their fridge before they arrive. Perhaps. Or perhaps a higher power was operating when assigning former dairy farmers to sponsor your humble, cheese-loving narrators.
Our first weekend, without any way of getting around ourselves, we spent a lot of time with our social sponsors. One night, over delicious Indian food, S decided to test D’s patience by asking R & L to elaborate on the joys of making cheese. They explained how to pasteurize milk. They told us how to mail-order cheese-making supplies. They discussed the intricacies of each variety of cheese they’ve made. D ordered another Tusker (the local brew). They told us about cheese mites and how they once passed off as Swiss a wheel of cheese that was riddled with mite-burrowed passageways. In short, they knew more about cheese than we thought was humanly possible and they were very willing to share every iota of their extensive fromage knowledge. S was so enraptured that she asked to join R & L the following weekend on their expedition up-country in search of fresh milk. So while D spent this Saturday afternoon at the office, S visited a British family farm that dates back to colonial times, picked up a few liters of fresh milk, and apprenticed herself to our social sponsors. The next morning we were rewarded with home-made yogurt and “fromage blanc” – a delicious fresh cheese spread whose recipe was the only thing L was unwilling to divulge, calling it a French secret.