My life is forever changed - One man’s Limburger Story
Many events, encounters and experiences define a man’s life, some are milestones and achievements that we take in stride and they define our character. Others are rites of passage allowing us to seek our dreams and challenge our mettle.
Robert Frost talked about the road less traveled:
“… I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference”
Today was one of those rare occasions. Before me sits a simple foil wrapper with bright red label proudly stating this is “Country Castle Limburger Cheese”. Since 1885 this marvel has been continually produces at this simple cottage they call their “Castle”. Much like the Reinheitgebot or German Purity Law from 1516, defines the simple tradition of blending water, barley and hops to create beer, so too does the Castle rely on sheer simplicity in their cheese. Pasteurized whole milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes and calcium chloride combine to form what we know as Limburger.
merely days from 'the date' this is serious Limburger. It's go time!
Much like a first date, nervous anticipation overwhelmed me as I removed the simple foil wrapper revealing yet another shroud this cheese is hiding beneath. Tendrils of pure Limburger essence begin to emerge as the layers are peeled away to reveal this illustrious cheese they call Limburger.
Described as “well known for its pungent aroma”, I truly believe the individual whom penned those words did not fully grasp the true terror & vile nature of the essence of this cheese. Pungent is defined as having and intense flavor or odor and often used to describe cheese like Parmesan, Old Cheddar and Stilton. Well my friends, this cheese is nowhere near my understanding of pungent.
What emerged from this simple package was shear cloying tendrils of a stench that ravaged my olfactory senses like millions of daggers attacking my very core. I ponder how hungry one must become to find this cheese peacefully sitting at the back of a cheese cave somewhere and to choose IT by smell and sight alone over other alternative that may reside there. Perhaps bats, mice, rats, various other rotten fruits or vegetables would spark an appetite with more vigor than this specimen.
I carry on and trudge forward, I cut the cheese! Immediately I realize what I smelled prior to this was just a mere hint of what is lurking in the bowels of this cheese. Objectively, the texture is smooth and creamy and with light effort could be considered spreadable. The rind is actually quite intriguing with its orange-brown highlights and chalky texture.
My mind is now starting to speculate the degree of sanity one would lose by trudging forward. I persist.
Shakily I top a simple wafer with a slab of this wonder. I taste……
At this point I realize the gag reflex is strong and swift with this cheese. Sheer mental determination drives my jaw forward as attempt to analyze mouth feel and texture in between the convulsions in the back of my throat. This cheese is quite salty with a slightly nutty, earthy and organic quality about it. Actually, the dominant taste was very close in reference to the flavor profile coined by Wayne (3 letter word for Donkey – starts with and ‘a’ and ends with two ‘s’).
This stunt is performed by a trained professional - do not try this at home.
It is at this point that I come to the devastating realization that I started this endeavor without the aid of a strong and powerful beverage within arm’s reach. Like a schoolgirl in a poorly made horror movie, I fumbled first for a glass then for some substance to fill it with that would properly sterilize the situation.
I did labor through two slices of this cheese and really have to say that the first taste is really the defining moment of this cheese. Many weary cheese adventurers will never give this cheese a second bite. I do have to say that the second bite and subsequent bites are more and more tolerable. You can really start identifying the character of this cheese and maybe, just maybe, see a glimpse of the appeal that keeps this cheese in existence for us to ‘enjoy’.
I did finally procure a glass of barleywine to go along with this cheese. Although this barleywine is a particularly excellent tasting drink I found that anything slightly more stomach-able than thirty day old urine harboring in the stomach of a dead whale would taste divine accompanied by Limburger. This is true of my recommendations for food pairings as well. If you really want to shine and impress as a chef, I recommend serving Limburger as your appetizer. No matter what you prepare or how well you prepare it, your prowess as a chef will be hailed!
Thus concludes this rite of passage and I, forever as a man am changed.