Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wisconsin and the Great Big Stink

On a mini-trip this past weekend, Dave and I bought a variety of local Wisconsin foodstuffs. We crammed a cooler full of all the usual suspects: bratwurst, summer sausage, bacon, cheeses, and a couple of microbrews. Our findings also include some lesser known items, like hard honey candies with liquid centers and a couple kinds of wine from the Wollersheim Winery in Prairie Du Sac. In an old fashioned general store we drank a yummy grape soda brewed by Gray's in Janesville, WI, and a Sioux City Sasparilla of Big Lebowski fame. It lives up to its nickname, "The Grandaddy of all root beers."

In an antique store I came across a very old, very well preserved cake decorating set, made all of aluminum. I was amazed that it wasn't rusted, and that it only cost $5.

At a local market, I bought a block of Beer Kaese, a cheese that I was unfamiliar with. From it's name, it sounded like it had to be delicious. Beer and cheese - need I say more? It wasn't until today, when I snipped open its plastic packaging for the first time, that I realized how wrong I could be. The scent was so putrid that words fail me, even though I am five hours removed from it. I felt lightheaded, like the air was being hoovered out of my lungs, when the odor hit me. I tried not to breathe as I reluctantly put the tiniest morsel of cheese in my mouth. Spinning nausea ensued. As quickly as I could, I bagged up the stinky cheese in a double-sealed Ziploc and shoved it back into the fridge. After scouring my hands twice with dish soap, I could still smell the Beer Kaese on me. More spinning nausea.

A quick trip to Wikipedia reveals that Beer Kaese is originally a German cheese, also known as Weisslacker. It is a pungent (read: vile) salted, semi firm cheese that ripens for seven months in highly humid conditions. There is actually no beer in the cheese, but since it is too pungent (read: inedible) to serve with wine, it is often served with beer, for dunking. It is a relative to Limburger, and is frequently found on menus in the Czech Republic.

That's great for the Czechs. They can keep their Beer Kaese. It will never again be found in my home.

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