Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Country Cheese VS City Cheese

So I'm no dairy farmer. The closest I come to the actual cheese-making process would be a great aunt who makes it in San Simon, Michoacan, Mexico...hmmm, pretty close actually. Oh well, here's hoping I don't offend too many family members...but I just couldn't shake this thought as I had my shower this morning.

In Mexico, there is a difference between Country cheese (del rancho) and City cheese.
Cheese sold in an open air tiangis(market)

Cheese is, well, that hard milk stuff that folk make from the cows' milk, duh! In the olden days on the big ranches in Mexico, it was (and still is really) a way to preserve the milk a little longer and is yu-uu-mie with your fried beans (you know, they're only fried once, I dunno why they call them re-fried...maybe when you re-heat them?). I found out though, that all my life I'd been bamboozeled. Or at least uneducated.

I grew up in LA, did I mention this already somewhere? But my house may as well have been "little Mexico." I knew all about "American Cheese food"-- it's the orange-y cheese that comes in the plastic thingies (kids LOVE this stuff), Mozerella Cheese -- the white melty cheese my mom used when she made lasagna (once a year), and Monterey Jack -- the white cheese that goes into Chiles Rellenos, and, of course, what I lovingly referred to as "stinky feet cheese"-- the white crumbly cheese from Mexico that goes on beans and enchiladas & etc. This last bit is the "country cheese" in Mexico...but really, I think all the cheese I grew up with was, well, a little bit country.

It wasn't until I moved away from home to go to college that I was introduced to such things as Provolone, Gouda, REAL Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere(or however it's spelled) Muenster, Blue, Brie, & etc. ad infinitum (thank you nice people at "Shopper's Corner" that never laughed at me when I bought new (to me) cheese). I grew up in LA! How did I miss that?

Then as an adult I went down to Mexico and was educated once again by the lovely cheese lady in La Paz, Baja California (so I guess it's not quite Mexico--to hear my dad, Baja is Baja, and Mexico is Mexico to each their own). What a concept, they too had different cheeses for different (well I was trying to see if I could rhyme it, but it's not gonna happen) dishes. I've forgotten most of their names as they were very region specific, but the nice cheese lady was oh so patient as she explained how you used this really melty one (asadero) for quesadillas while this other one, Corazon de something, was better for Chiles Rellenos, and the other one with the word valley in it was great for the crumbling.
(asadero cheese, note how silky, ready to melt in your hands...)

Standing in the aforementioned "big-name-craft-store" in the Carson City Strip Mall the other day, I felt like the "cheese lady" coming upon ladies that had eaten country cheese all their lives. They were shocked that I wasn't picking up one of everything in this 50% off sale. They recommended three other "big-name-craft-stores" and named off yarn they just loved. I hoped they wouldn't, but they did ask where oh where I, in the tiny-ness that is Kings Beach, was I hoping to find yarn if I didn't buy it right there, right then. I mentioned the two little LYSs I've gone to; in Tahoe City, "Three Dog Knit," and "Jimmy Beans Wool" in Truckee. They looked perplexed. The names didn't ring a bell. Instead they tried to get me to take home some really pretty looking yarn that had more plastic in it than some of the knitting needles I've got stored in LA. That's when it hit me. I'm a yarn snob.

I used to use this yarn! I DID! My mother would never have let me learn how to crochet using silk (or the really nice cotton thread I have stashed). I crocheted Barbie clothes galore with the baby yarn handed down to me in such fabu colors as electric pink and baby chick yellow! I had miles and miles of white yarn to make blankets, toilet roll dress covers, doilies galore...what happened? When did I change? I suppose I could blame my college town once again.

"The Golden Fleece" in Santa Cruz was where I found my first $6 (or was it $9?) ball of yarn for my very first knitting project. Surprise surprise, a scarf. It was a charcoal tweed. Wool. Weird, with its bits of hay and twisted in colors of things. I almost immediately frogged that scarf and then crocheted it. Unless he's burned it, my X has it somewhere in Hawai'i. But I remember using 3 balls of yarn for that thing, he wanted it "Dr. Who" length. Then came some fluffy yummy stuff for (yup) another scarf. We were doing secret Santa's at the now defunct Joseph Gambetta Middle School where I taught 7th grade English/ESL. 2 1/2 balls of a $10 angora-something to knit that one up, and I did knit it. I remember going to K-Mart for something a short time after. I looked at the yarn, yes, I confess, I shrank back from it. You can never go back? It was too late for me; I'd had my fill of "country cheese" and was looking for the city stuff.

Should I go on with my confession? Just a few lines more...my needles. Yes, I've gone off the deep end. I "inherited" all of my mom's needles. (She's still around people, I just got her needles is all.) These are wonderful metal/aluminum, and maybe a pair of plastics as well. All really long for sweater and blanket work, I'm guessing. I convince myself I'm not replacing them, no, not really, I'm buying ones I need as I've stuck to short ones, you know, for scarves and small projects, yes, that's it...but I tend to only go for the wooden or bamboo now.

How did a country girl like me get so city?

And if you've read this far you get a prize: a game link I "borrowed" from another blog, it just fit the whole country/city angle so nicely. The Egg Game try play. Though a few glasses of wine might help it/you along much.

1 comment:

Birdsong said...

Hey thanks for the shout.. .I have been to both of your LYS and love them; my son lived in Kings Beach and Incline from 1997 till August, so we would go check them out - stick with the good stuff. I don't know if there are a lot of knitters where you are, but Cody had a friend in the crocheted beanie business last year, who rode at Northstar with him. He and my only daughter are sharing an apartment in Chico now, trying to finish their BA degrees, but we all ride up there all winter, so will be thinking of you. You are entered into the chenille drawing, although it is a little on the plastic side (but a great color). My favorite fiber is alpaca!