Willie Nelson once said, “The early bird catches the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese.” Oh to be the lucky little second mouse. What luck he had by being a little slower than his friend.
Since moving to Europe my weekly trips to the market have been a shopper’s delight. My favorite store in town always has little stations set up along the route taken around the store for sampling. One time I arrived and I was handed a wine glass. Wine vendors from around Europe were all stationed around the store letting people sample their fine wines. I had to sober up by the time I got over to the paper goods section. Now that’s the way to get me to spend my money in their store. Another time... I was strolling past the wine section when a vendor asked me if I’d like a shot of Tequila. I laughed and said “Are you serious?” I declined but then strolled back a few minutes later for a little taste. And yes, I purchased a bottle.
But I do have to say, my favorite section is the cheese section. My youngest daughter won’t even walk near the cheese because she has such disdain for cheese. The smell, the taste, the texture…. But these are all things I love about cheese. Each week, I stop to chat with the people selling the cheese and having a nibble or two before making my selections. My friend Hans will usually just walk over to me and hand me this one cheese I love. Still to this day, I don’t even know what it is.. but he knows.
I was having guests from America a few weeks ago and told Hans this as I was trying to make good selections for an appetizer. Hans said, “Well, you have to give them the heart cheese and then tell them the story.” I had never heard the story so Hans shared it with me… and I thought I’d share it here. It’s a beautiful little story and even if you don’t love cheese… you may love this little story.
Neufchatel is one of oldest cheeses from France dating back to the year 1035 from a village in the Normandy area called Neufchatel-en-Bray. The story of the heart shaped cheese is believed to have begun during the 100 years’ war when the French farm girls fell in love with the English soldiers and started making the cheese in heart shapes to show their affection. The Coeur de Bray or Heart of Bray, is a delicious addition to any day… especially with a charming little love story such as this.
So if you’re as smart as that second little mouse, take a stroll through the cheese section of your local market and look for the heart shaped cheese. A white thick outer layer filled with soft creamy delight on top of a cracker or all alone is perfect. Just say cheese… and smile!