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Say cheese!

Kristen Durbin | Sunday, February 19, 2012

My favorite food is not pizza. It’s not ice cream either. Even South Dining Hall’s broccoli doesn’t hold the key to my food-loving heart.

My favorite food is that most delicious of animal byproducts: cheese.

Words cannot begin to describe how much I love cheese, but I’ll try to express my lactose-laden emotions about it as best as I can.

For me, a day without cheese is like Notre Dame without squirrels. I feel empty inside (literally and figuratively) when I go without it, and I wouldn’t dare dream of going vegan for fear of losing one of my life’s greatest sources of pleasure.

Not only do I enjoy eating all types of cheese on their own, but I also relish any dish containing cheese, especially Noodles and Company’s macaroni and cheese and Lou Malnati’s deep-dish pizza.

I love cheese so much that nearly all of my passwords are cheese-related (don’t get any ideas). If that doesn’t fully express to you the magnitude of my feelings for cheese, you probably don’t love anything as much as I cherish the tangy flavor of a nice sharp Cheddar or a grilled cheese sandwich made with rich Brie.

Since I’m the most indecisive person in the world, cheese is the perfect food because it comes in so many shapes, sizes, colors, flavors and textures that I am perpetually sampling new varieties wherever I go.

From Florence to France, Madrid to Munich and Barcelona to Bilbao, I spent a large part of my semester abroad tasting the local specialty cheeses of Europe. My lunch in Paris’s Luxembourg Gardens consisted of Babybels and a baguette, and when I came upon a giant wall of cheese in the Mercat St. Josep in Barcelona, I almost had a coronary on the spot. Apparently my failure to go into cardiac arrest means all that cheese miraculously hasn’t increased my cholesterol to a life-threatening level just yet.

Living in Toledo, Spain, for three-and-a-half months was the experience of a lifetime, due in no small part to the amount of Manchego cheese I ate with my host mom and my friends. I loved that typical cheese of the Castilla-La Mancha province so much that I smuggled a chunk home in my suitcase at the end of the semester.

And as if studying abroad in Spain wasn’t cheesy enough for me, I also take great pride in my Greek heritage and will vouch for feta cheese’s status as the true food of the gods. Like any good Greek, I refuse to eat anything but the real-deal imported feta (SDH’s doesn’t cut it).

Though my world travels have come to a temporary halt, my love of cheese will endure forever, no matter where I find myself. As a good friend once said, “Cheese brings people together,” so if anyone reading this shares a mutual love of gouda or gorgonzola, consider yourself a kindred spirit.

Contact Kristen Durbin at kdurbin@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.