My husband always insists on keeping me fed. My requests for him to refrain from bringing me breakfast at work fall on deaf ears. I am convinced that it is a secret plan of his to keep my fluffy, and his plot is often materialized in the form of egg and cheese sandwiches. Lately, I have noticed that they don’t completely agree with my body. Each time I eat them, my gastro intestinal tract protests almost violently with painful, involuntary contractions of its smooth muscle layer. Initially, I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was, but slowly, my worst nightmares have been realized.
I have an unnaturally intense love of cheese. There is no dish in the world that can’t be perfected by the right cheese. Sharp and salty, or smooth and creamy, cheese is the perfect companion. Yet, my unyielding love is not reciprocated by cheese. It seems to do horrible things to my body, as though it were repulsed by our closeness after my having consumed it. It fights to break free of me. After doing some research, I have come to the conclusion that this love affair with cheese is physically unhealthy for me. Its smell draws me in, its flavor mesmerizes me. But like the most beautiful poisonous flower, consumption can have catastrophic results. Of course, cheese wouldn’t kill me, but the abdominal pain I experience shortly after eating makes me wonder if death was this painful.
I suspected for some time that cheese was like venom for me, but have not wanted to openly admit it, not even to myself. Admitting it would mean that I had to make a choice. That choice would cause my heart to break into a million pieces. There was no way I could deny my love for it. No way could I abstain. It had almost a gravitational pull for me. But for the sake of my health and comfort, I thought I would give it a try. On an unusually cold, wet Saturday afternoon in the normally sunny city of Orlando, I stood in my kitchen waiting for the panini press to reach the right temperature. The weather was almost an omen of sorts. Or a symbol of the sadness I felt over my decision to end this love affair. But I couldn’t end it without one last, dramatic kiss goodbye. I sliced my thick piece of artisan bread and in between it’s crusty halves, I layered gruyere, brie, and the most beautiful sharp Vermont cheddar I had ever tasted. The sharp cheddar was an odd addition to the other two cheeses, but it complimented it nicely. I topped it off with thin slices of tart, green apples and put it into the press. The minutes felt like hours as I waited for the bread to be perfectly toasted, for the cheese to transform into the most irresistible texture. I could barely wait for it to cool when I slid the sandwich onto my plate. I wanted to savor this moment that would be my last with this forbidden food. My gastro intestinal tract winced, but my mouth watered with anticipation. I took a bite. Goosebumps were immediately visible on my arms, and I could feel the hairs on the nape of my neck stand up. There was no denying that cheese was the most delicious food in the world. There was also no denying that I couldn’t let it go.
My body knows that this love affair is wrong. To have such a strong affinity for cheese is not healthy for anyone, but especially not for me. I can’t help the desire. My toes curl at the thought of it. I can’t wait to get my hands on a jar of fig preserves to slather on crusty bread with goat cheese. Mmmm. Just the thought sends chills through me. I know it’s wrong, but we all have our vices. Don’t judge me for mine.