Language of Love
"You want to go to the grocery store with me?" I ask my youngest.
"Only if I can eat some cheese!" he says, with the shrewdness his brothers might negotiate for Cheetos, with their day-glo coating of "cheese-flavored" dust, more closely resembling deforestation agents than actual cheese.
But he means real cheese--not the imitation of its flavor by chemists who've evidently never tasted real cheese, not the vinyl textured processed kind, or the rubbery, bland ropes of it packaged for kids as string cheese. He means the cheese that is found on the opposite side of the supermarket from the dairy case, over by the deli, where tiny cubes of expensive, imported cheese are set out for sampling with frilled toothpicks. Crumbly, stinky, rind-skinned, glorious cheese.
This one knows the way to my heart is through his stomach. His brothers, raised at the same table, offered the same foods, wrinkle their noses at anything stronger than the little red wheels of Babyel -- baby cheese, a friend from France calls it. Pablum. They wrinkle their noses when something unfamiliar is set before them at the dinner table, or when they wander through a cloud of spices in the kitchen. Even his father, at 46, regards new dishes with an unconscious expression of suspicion. Not this one. He climbs up on the kitchen stool and breathes deep.
"What's that good smell?" he asks, as I fold dressing into boiled potatoes for salad.
"Fresh pepper," I say.
He inhales again, eyes closed.
"Dill weed, lemon juice, horseradish," I tell him, as if this were a Bible lesson, and I were teaching him names of the disciples.
At the grocery store, we discover that all the cheese samples have been eaten. My budget is tight this week, and no amount of pouting would move me to add an off-list bag of chips or candy bar to our cart, but I console him by offering to buy a wedge of his choosing. He chooses an apricot-colored "Thousand-Day" gouda we've never tried. It costs twenty dollars a pound. We leave with a four-ounce piece, wrapped in cellophane. Edible gold.
We don't even wait to get it home, but eat it in the parking lot, making ecstatic cheese noises, the conversation that needs no words, speaking each other's language.
Labels: mine all mine