Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

There's a pretty good sandwich place up the street from here where you can get a gut-filling lunch for all of two bucks. They haven't picked up the New York deli habit of naming sandwiches after celebrities - "The Cantinflas," say, or "The Shakira." Instead, they name them after cities: "The Queretana," "The Tampiqueña," etc. So I decided to try "The Oaxaqueña" - ham, onions, avocado, and three different cheeses: queso blanco, queso amarillo and queso puerco. Cheese Heaven, baby! Oaxaca in da house!

Now there are a lot of different cheeses in Mexico, and it gets a little hard to keep them all straight sometimes. Queso puerco - who knows what it is? The name means "pork cheese," so I figure, you know, maybe it's got bacon bits in it or something. If you taste something in your food here and you're not quite certain what it is, bacon is usually a pretty good guess.

So, queso puerco is what we refer to as head cheese. I don't mean "we" literally, since I grew up in household where we were lucky enough to be able to eat only the "meat" part of the animal, but all the avocado in the world couldn't conceal the fact that I had ordered a sandwich made from "a terrine of meat from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) that would not otherwise be considered appealing [and] may also include meat from the feet and heart." "Meat," in this context, is a polite way of say "gelatinous goo." And, yes, it would have been rude not to finish it.

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