posted by Caroline

In Paris, I was looking forward to meeting one of my long-time computer friends, Susannah Pabot, whom I met in an on-line writing class two years ago, and with whom I continue to exchange writing. The apartment we rented turned out, by great coincidence, to be only a short walk from her apartment, so she offered to meet us with a few groceries: bread, milk, fruit, cheese.

The bread was baguette, which we all loved (though by the end of the trip, Eli was definitely tiring of chewing baguette. “Why this French bread so big?” he complained, gnawing away at it.) The milk was full fat, which I haven’t bought since Eli turned 1 (and haven’t drunk myself since I was a kid). In all the markets I visited, I never did see low fat milk; I expect in France there’s a law against the stuff. The fruit — a brown bag of cherries, a handful of apricots, and a melon — was fragrant and perfect. And the cheese… well, I had forgotten, somehow, what to expect with the cheese.

Currently, my children eat Baby Bell cheese (Eli), Monterey Jack (Ben), good freshly grated parmesan (Eli), and the generic grated cheese served at Pasta Pomodoro (Ben). That is to say, as far as the French (and anyone with an even slightly-refined palate) are concerned, they do not eat cheese. And although Susannah brought a lovely soft chevre and a meltingly ripe camembert, she’s the mom of a picky eater and so she did also bring a mild, sweetish hard cheese, comte, which apparently French children like. That is to say, she tried. “It’s all good, the cheese man assured me, today,” she said. Ah, yes, I realized, we are not in Kansas anymore… here in France, the cheese is a living thing, beautiful and tender as fresh fruit.

Of course, my children did not touch it.

The next day, at the covered market, I stood in front of the cheese stall, nearly knocked over by the heady smell, and left empty-handed– a little wistful, but pragmatic.

At the Monoprix market, I bought a 12-pack of baby bell cheese and took it home to my boys.