Today we are going to Muse about cheese.  If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.

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Ah fromage, the sweet smell of cheese!

I discovered Gruyère cheese when I went off to University.  It is now one of my favorite cheeses.  Growing up I remember Kraft cheeses, Parmesan cheese shredded in the green can and mild cheese like Colby.  My mother was fond of Limburger but I wasn’t up to that.  I would bring my friends to the frig and have them smell it and I would say, “My mother eats that!”  I don’t remember Gruyère growing up or when I first became aware of it but by my college years it was one of my favorites.

The summer following my freshman year at the University I was in France.  My family lived in Nomeny in the Alsace-Lorraine region.  I had a summer job at a nearby Air Force base.  There I met a fellow about my age and we became friends.

One weekend he suggested we go together to a  dance he had heard about.  He had access to a car.  A Deux chevaux similar to this.



Great!  Girls, car, dance . . . that was all good.  Nomeny shut down with the setting sun.  Pretty boring for a young randy guy.

So he picked me up and off we headed for the dance.  I remember it was about thirty miles away.  In those days the roads were narrow, winding and dark.  About fifteen minutes into our drive, out in the countryside, we passed a small commercial van parked at the side of the road in the dark.  It was about this size.

Citroen Van

Citroen Van

The driver was standing looking at the van and he did not appear happy.  As we blew past him I said to my friend,  “Maybe he needs help.  Why don’t we go back and see?”

And we did.  Turned out that he had run out of petrol.  He had an empty gas can.  So that was easy enough.  We told him to get in and we would take him to a gas station and back.

At this time my French was about as accomplished as that of a two-year old and my friend spoke none.  Our gasless friend spoke no English.  I don’t know how but somehow we learned that he was in the cheese business.  That was his cheese van.  I told him how fond I was of Gruyère cheese.

We had this simple conversation as we went looking for petrol.  We didn’t realize what a challenge we faced.  Rural France shut down at dark.  At Village and town, one after another, we found all the petrol stations closed and dark.  Finally, after driving about forty five miles in back country roads we found an open station.  Huzzah!

He got his gas and we got him back to his van.  He was very thankful and wanted to pay us.  We said, “No. No. That was not necessary.”  And we prepared to leave.  He said, “attendee” and he ran to his van.  Back he came carrying half a wheel of Gruyère cheese which he gave us and which we accepted.

gruyere-vieuxThat is a lot of cheese.

So we headed off again to the dance an hour or so late but pleased with ourselves.  When we got there we had a dilemma . . . what to do with the cheese.  Why we did not leave it in the car I do not recall, but we decided not to.  Instead, we checked the cheese wheel in the coat room.

The dance was fun.  We had a good time but eventually we had to head home.  I retrieved the cheese.  Oh my Gawd, the coat room smelled like Gruyère cheese.  Everyone was sooo pleased!

Ah the sweet smell of cheese!

More to come

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About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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