Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Not at all cheesy

My sister's granddaughter Leslie Uhl, already in possession of the foodie credential CCP (Certified Cheese Professional), just won a lovely prize to go along with it.  She submitted the winning essay in a competition sponsored by the Comté Cheese Association, and won a free trip to France next summer to learn everything about Comté cheese that she doesn't know already.

If you have a minute to spare, click over [here] and read her essay.  As a professional writer I had to give her serious points for doing the job well.  For one thing, if you don't have a whole lot to say about the appointed subject, think of a related subject that you can discuss gracefully and amusingly -- clearly Leslie was much more comfortable writing about lowbrow Midwest comfort food than about the Montbéliarde Cattle and the master affinuers, so that's what she did, then neatly tied the two together in a bow.  Good work, Leslie!

Just to make this a learning experience, Comté cheese comes from the Franche-Comté region, immediately west of Switzerland.  And here's something I didn't know before my foray into Comté lore:  as a controlled appellation, the cheese has to pass inspection to be sold under that name.  Cheese that fails gets sold as Gruyère.  Since I like Gruyère just fine, I'd probably love Comté, and will have to keep my eyes open for it in the store.

Leslie works at Di Bruno Bros., a hallowed foodie mecca in Philadelphia.  I hope this honor gets her a nice raise!


  1. Seems like a backhanded compliment, to say the least. As a coworker of Leslie, I can assure you she can speak and write eloquently about Comte, but opted to go in a different direction. The judging panel was comprised of Comte experts, so Leslie's approach was to not bore them with facts and details that they could recite ad nauseam. It obviously worked, as those experts selected her evocative, romantic essay out of nearly 100 entries.

    Furthermore, linking "lowbrow" casserole and meatloaf to Comte is a stroke of genius. To you, Comte might be a highbrow, "elite" version of Gruyere (this generalization, garnered from a quick search on the internet, does not come close to describing the relationship between the two), but Comte is the most-consumed cheese in France. It is there equivalent of Cheddar, in terms of popularity in the US, and epitomizes comfort food to the French. The liaison between these comfort foods of different origins obviously struck a chord with the judges, too.

    1. Au contraire -- only front-handed compliments in this blog.

      Merry Christmas!