“Here, Martha.”

I’ve been frustrated lately, I think mostly because of the hip which hurts at times and limits me. Finding a doc is not much fun, either, since I don’t even WANT to look. It’s made me lose some of my enchantment with the remote valley in which I live. In my current state of mind, which is prickly, it’s been easier than usual to be dissatisfied and not find the usual compensations and benefits that surround me and which, in a normal state of mind, I love.

I’ve been annoyed that I can’t find things at the store I’d like to find. I’m kind of a cheese snob. Not a major cheese snob, but a cheese snob nonetheless. Last week I was at the semi-local grocery store. I wanted to make a quiche Lorraine, but I couldn’t find Gruyere. There was none in the store. I wandered around the deli area and a store employee came up to see if he could help. Yes, that happens here.

“There’s no Gruyere,” I said.

“There has to be,” he said. “It should be here.” We walked over to a case that had brie after brie and Romano after Romano and even cheddar from Australia, but no gruyere.

“Wow,” he said. “When I ran this department we always had gruyere.”

I nodded. “I want to make a quiche,” I said.

“I’ll leave a note and have them order some. It’ll be here Wednesday or Friday. I’m really sorry we don’t have any. We should. I’m so sorry.”

I might have looked like I was about to cry, I don’t know.

“Thank you,” I said. I was really appreciative.

Today I went shopping. I didn’t expect to find gruyere, and at first I didn’t. What I expected to find was a little white package with a tiny Swiss flag on it and a monstrous price tag. I kept looking and suddenly I saw it. I was disappointed. The cheese snob inside me was about to repudiate the whole thing. But then… I saw that there were DOZENS of packages of this strange gruyere from Wisconsin, a brand of cheese I’ve never really liked [if it’s good cheese, why smoke it?]. There were DOZENS of packages and they were, essentially, all for me.

Point of fact, it’s not like the valley doesn’t offer such rarities as Swiss gruyere; it does. I’d only have had to go to Safeway up the road. Sometimes they have it. And, ultimately, the cheese isn’t the point.

The point is the cosmic metaphor.

I live in a kind, responsive, generous-hearted valley that will give me the best it knows and my job is to meet it halfway. Tears rose in my eyes as I picked up the package from the IMMENSE pile of gruyere that had been ordered because I said I wanted it.

“Whatever you are, you’re going to be quiche lorraine,” I telepathically explained to the cheese. “Let’s go home.”


19 thoughts on ““Here, Martha.”

  1. This is often how serendipitous cooking discoveries happen sometimes. It may not be Quiche Lorraine, but I bet what you end up making will be delicious. Smoked cheeses are wonderful, and I’ve made many dishes with them. You might want to saute the onions until they are practically mahogony color to bring out more sweetness (you can even dust them with a little sugar) as a nice sweet foil to the smoke. Even if you don’t do that, if anything the smoke will bolster the bacon flavor…hopefully 🙂

    And of course, the great thing about cooking is that even if you don’t like it, you can make it again when you DO find real Gruyere! (Or break down and buy generic “Swiss cheese” 😉 )

    • I will definitely saute the onions and good point. As the bacon I have isn’t the best, maybe the cheese will help it out a little. We’ll see. I think Monday night. I’ll let you know! I have already let go of how I will expect it to taste and I have a more open mind. I just get homesick for Switzerland sometimes.

      • I understand. The heart wants what the heart wants. And sometimes the stomach. I do indeed understand.

        Yes, certainly, let me (us) know how it came out. I’m very curious – good luck! 🙂

    • I like a good, sharp NY white cheddar very much. But sometimes…. ONCE in the local Safeway I found Emmenthaler. I bought a bunch of it. ❤ It was around Christmas and I think Santa left it.

  2. We have the same problem. I remember searching the region — everywhere — for matzoh meal. Such a basic thing you think you’ll find in every store — but not here where there are — except for me — no Jews. Well, there probably are a few who don’t practice anything, but no matzoh, matzoh meal or any of the stuff I need to make ethnic foods. They have a lot of oriental stuff, but almost never the same thing twice in a row … and as for cheese. You’ve got provolone (super bland). Cheddar (New York, Vermont, or Wisconsin). Swiss. Ridiculously expensive Brie and Jarlsberg for the price of a new car. Gruyere? What’s that?

    But y’know, we’ve lived here long enough that I’ve either learned to live without or found something I can substitute for it. People around here don’t EAT it, so the stores don’t have it. Life in the country. I don’t even get annoyed about it anymore.

    • I’m not annoyed — and I go to Colorado Springs often enough to deal with it — but I must have looked sad that day and today I was honestly touched by the kindness of that pile of cheese. 🙂

      • It was nice of them to bring you the cheese they thought you wanted. Our shop does not do its own ordering. It’s part of a small chain (just New England) but some of their decisions are hard to comprehend.

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