#fonduegate
December 22, 2017 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Why The Customer Is Not Always Right In France [The Local] “As a veteran of fondues I know what I want in there: Comté, Beaufort and Appenzel. Forget Emmental, it's not strong enough. But my usual Paris cheese monger put a spanner in the works this week. When I asked him for some Beaufort he just looked at me and shook his head. The conversation went roughly like this.” [Twitter Thread]
posted by Fizz (358 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've eaten at restaurants where the chef has refused to provide ketchup to the customer for their steak. And I'm ok with this. There are some things you just don't do with certain foods.
posted by Fizz at 12:47 PM on December 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


Fondue is a suspicious approach to food even when you aren’t trying to use the wrong cheese.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


PAS DE FROMAGE POUR TOI!
posted by rhizome at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


I am of a mixed mind about this. Because I am all about respecting cheeses. But I am also all about making over the top e.g., macaroni & cheese with crazy-good cheeses. I guess that said, I totally agree there are totally cheeses that are too subtle and complex for that, so I guess it's a dialog with the cheesemonger. When this goes well, the dialog includes little sample tastes of a bunch of amazing cheeses, some of which I also buy to just eat on their own.
posted by aubilenon at 12:55 PM on December 22, 2017


I was told well after the fact that a bartender at my wedding straight-up refused to serve one of our guests a particular expensive scotch on the rocks (I don't know which one).
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


Love that Twitter thread:

Sebastien Plisson

@splisson

For an aged beaufort he s right. A regular young Beaufort is great for fondue


Ben McPartland

@McPBen

Yep. Thats basically what he explained over the next hour

posted by Halloween Jack at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I like that the cheese monger spent an hour explaining their reasoning. (On preview, Hallowe'en Jack caught it too). I agree with the cheese monger, if you go to speciality shops part of the experience is getting to lean on their expertise. To hell with the stupid "the customer is always right" bullshit. I work in public service and I back my staff in providing appropriate customer service, which includes getting rid of any customer that stays "isn't the customer always right?"
posted by saucysault at 12:59 PM on December 22, 2017 [33 favorites]


My partner lived in Paris for a time and loved the local sandwiches you could pick up on the street. There were two offerings that were ubiquitous: Baguette Jambon Beurre Gruyère and Baguette Saucisson Sec.

It seemed obvious that one might request a Saucisson Sec with Gruyère.

"No, that would not taste good"

"Well, I think it might. May I have a Baguette Saucisson Sec Gruyère?"

"I'm sorry, No. It would not be good"

"I see. Well, then may I have two sandwiches? One Baguette Jambon Beurre Gruyère and one Baguette Saucisson Sec?"

"That's fine"

My partner then took the two and assembled the abomination in front of the cart while keeping eye contact with the vendor.

(it was good)
posted by CheapB at 12:59 PM on December 22, 2017 [57 favorites]


> "I've eaten at restaurants where the chef has refused to provide ketchup to the customer for their steak. And I'm ok with this."

I'm ... not. It's stupid and snobby.

I am happy for someone to give me an expert opinion on why I shouldn't use a certain cheese for fondue / cook something a certain way / pair certain tastes / put a certain topping on something. I might listen and try it a different way.

But these are ultimately matters of taste preference, and if I like something a certain way and know that, then that's the end of it. It is not "correct" or "better" to do something a certain way regarding matters of preference. If I know how I like something because I like it that way, then anyone who tells me I am wrong is not, in fact, correct. They are wrong and stupid.

This does not mean that expert opinion on matters of preference has no value. Weight of experience, reasonable explanations for why many people prefer things a certain way, etc. all have meaning and value. But someone refusing entirely to listen to my own opinion on the subject of *what my own personal preferences are* because they do not have those preferences is ridiculous.
posted by kyrademon at 1:00 PM on December 22, 2017 [52 favorites]


I'm still just trying to get used to the idea that there's someone who knows how to sell cheese. I mean I've bought cheese in France, so I know intellectually. But in the US all I can find are plastic shrink-wrapped precut packages in a fridge case, half of which are too old and the other half too young. Or if I go to the really fancy shop maybe get something custom cut for me and have a bit of a chat about what kind of cheese to buy, only to get it home and find it's way too young.
posted by Nelson at 1:01 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


If I know how I like something because I like it that way, then anyone who tells me I am wrong is not, in fact, correct. They are wrong and stupid.

In everything else in life and food, I completely agree, do you the way you want to do you. But ketchup on steak is just the one place where I lose my damn mind. I know that everyone has a different palate, but ketchup!?!?

*grumbles*
posted by Fizz at 1:07 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'm torn on the steak and ketchup. On the one hand, yes, sure, taste is subjective. But on the other hand - do we get into almost offensive wastefulness? Is taking a beautiful, expensive, long-aged steak and smothering it in ketchup such a waste that it's akin to mixing a vintage red with coke, or to using, I don't know, paintings as toilet roll? (a bit over the top, admittedly, but)
posted by ominous_paws at 1:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Cheese shop man acknowledges that he has a specific cheese? Loser!
posted by Thella at 1:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I don't have a lot of patience for gatekeeping. I do like that he took the time to explain why though. But honestly if I want to scrub my floors with champagne or feed foie gras to a spoiled cat then I'm going to do so, and there will always be someone else willing to take my money.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:12 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


No ketchup on steak. For me it's about having respect for a craftsman, I'll take the cook's recommendation on how the food they prepared was meant to be eaten. I may not be back if I disagree but I'll try it once.
posted by N-stoff at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


“Tant pis.”

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:15 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


As cute as this is as a story about cultural differences, all I can think about is the notion that some people hold the privilege of propriety. They used to tell me that men don't marry other men, too, because they'd studied the subject for a lot longer than I had, no matter how much I wanted a man-on-manwich.

Easy solution: listen to the expert, but lie to their fucking face if they try to tell you you can't have what they're selling. (hat tip to CheapB for adding in the eye contact afterward).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:17 PM on December 22, 2017 [29 favorites]


But someone refusing entirely to listen to my own opinion on the subject of *what my own personal preferences are* because they do not have those preferences is ridiculous.

I mean, you’re welcome to try to convince them that your personal opinion is correct? Refusing to sell or serve you something does not equate to “refusing entirely to listen.” They are as entitled as you are to your opinion, and it’s their food to sell or not — if you’re insisting on things being a certain way...

But honestly if I want to scrub my floors with champagne or feed foie gras to a spoiled cat then I'm going to do so, and there will always be someone else willing to take my money.

...indeed. Or hey buy a steak and some Heinz and be wrong at home where nobody cares.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


god just let people eat what they fucking like. how can it possibly harm you personally unless it's your own internal organs that they like eating.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [48 favorites]


(I also lived in Orléans for a while, a place known for its vinegar and mustard, but I still want malt vinegar and yellow mustard on my fancy scalloped potatoes because they're going in my mouth, not yours.)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Easy solution: listen to the expert, but lie to their fucking face if they try to tell you you can't have what they're selling. (hat tip to CheapB for adding in the eye contact afterward).

Plan B: Stop someone outside on the street and offer them money to get you the cheese, like a teenager trying to get hold of liquor.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


Should they shit on your steak upon request too? where do we draw the line here?
posted by some loser at 1:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you really want to toy with a fromager, especially in Paris, ask them which cheese goes best with Marmite on toast.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


hello 911 i've slipped on a slope and i can't get up
posted by poffin boffin at 1:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [109 favorites]


or perhaps for food safety reasons they should at least allow one to take the steak to the bathroom and give it a wash in the urinal?
posted by some loser at 1:22 PM on December 22, 2017


"Which variety of Cracker Barrel would you recommend pairing with this wine? Also, by wine I mean can I have a Mountain Dew Baja Blast?"
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:24 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I will never put ketchup on steak because I have a personal abhorrence of ketchup. But let me ask: imagine that I am eating a steak, and feel it needs a little extra something. What might I put on it/dip bites in? I feel fine putting supermarket steak sauce like A1 on a cheap steak at a cheap restaurant, but if I had a really good steak...? Would I simply feel that the steak was so inherently delicious and well-prepared that I wouldn't want anything on it? Or what? Please advise. Just in case I ever get to have a steak that doesn't come from a cheap restaurant.
posted by Orlop at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's nothing in particular wrong with ketchup on steak, from my POV, even though I'd never do it--but from the restaurant's perspective, they do have reason to be concerned that you're going to pour a strongly-flavored condiment on a very expensive steak and then go tell other people that it wasn't that great a steak. I bet in the case of the cheese shop, if there was a prominent local chef who constantly came to that shop who one time made an unusual request and explained their reasoning for wanting to use that not-usually-fondue-ideal cheese for fondue, they'd get a different sort of response from a person of no obvious expertise who they have reason to be concerned will walk away going, "why did I spend this much for this cheese when it didn't even make good fondue."

People getting upset that they've spent a lot of money for a mediocre experience is too real a thing for me to find this behavior unreasonable. If they want to keep selling high-end products, they need to do a certain amount of reputation management, and this is part of it on multiple levels. I would be surprised, though, if the people who sell cheese in stores that serve low-income communities in France are as fussy about this, and I'd be surprised if places in the US and UK that sell $50 cheese weren't at least a *little* fussy in the same way.
posted by Sequence at 1:27 PM on December 22, 2017 [35 favorites]


Would I simply feel that the steak was so inherently delicious and well-prepared that I wouldn't want anything on it?

Bearnaise is pretty good.
posted by rhizome at 1:32 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Should they shit on your steak upon request too?

Redundant. It's already well done with ketchup.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:33 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


On the one hand there is nothing objectively wrong with steak and ketchup, on the tiny hand Donald Trump likes it
posted by ominous_paws at 1:35 PM on December 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


fondos and fondon'ts
posted by thelonius at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


Of course I mean "other hand", how awful of me
posted by ominous_paws at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Many years ago I ate at a famous and expensive steakhouse where they refused to cook my steak medium (apparently the acceptable options were rare and medium rare). While I've since grown to prefer my steaks medium rare, I'm still kind of annoyed about the experience.
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:36 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


I've eaten at restaurants where the chef has refused to provide ketchup to the customer for their steak. And I'm ok with this. There are some things you just don't do with certain foods.

My wife, whose mother I blame for a lot of her culinary quirks, once had a chef REFUSE to cook a piece of tuna to her specifications. I endorse this message.
posted by mikelieman at 1:37 PM on December 22, 2017


But let me ask: imagine that I am eating a steak, and feel it needs a little extra something.

Some folks will melt butter (herbed or not) on a steak, but I’d probably reach for a bit of salt first. Maybe black pepper.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:37 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


I was recently reading Yelp reviews of a place that does local farm-to-table beef and there was a recurring theme of "I let them talk me into getting my burger medium rare and it turns out I don't like it that rare." This is a case where letting the customer do what they want would have resulted in dishes not being sent back to the kitchen.

The ketchup-on-steak thing reminds me of the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird when Scout asks why the poor kid puts syrup on everything. Atticus tells her stfu, you're being rude, things like economics affect our tastes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by tofu_crouton at 1:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


Personally, I never have these kinds of interactions in France and I find it amusing how some people seem to prize them.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:40 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


work in public service and I back my staff in providing appropriate customer service, which includes getting rid of any customer that stays "isn't the customer always right?"

The funniest thing about tech support for investment banking meeting planners is, "You're calling our batphone because you literally don't know what to do, so maybe this is the time to LISTEN instead of grinding that axe..."

Or, as it was put in The Simpsons 5F09 , "Can't someone else do it?"
posted by mikelieman at 1:41 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


This is very interesting. It's the idea that not all decisions should be made by money. You should not be allowed to waste a precious, rare resource just because you have the cash to do it. Someone who puts it to better use should get it instead, even if they have less money than you.

It's an idea that's not totally foreign in the Anglosphere, but it's one that rarely survives entering the doors of a shop. We expect that only commercial interests matter once we're in a store; we don't expect to encounter someone who combines commerce and conservation.
posted by clawsoon at 1:44 PM on December 22, 2017 [79 favorites]


I’d probably reach for a bit of salt first

I remember a kerfuffle in an Atlanta fine dining establishment when the chef came out to yell at some customers who had asked for salt
posted by thelonius at 1:45 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


A1 is basically Heinz ketchup anyway, right?

I don't have a problem with a place deciding not to serve my choice of food for quality reasons. In my own kitchen I've wasted too many tasty, pricy ingredients by being just slightly inattentive, so when someone who deals with food way more than I do makes a suggestion, I listen. Listening beats having an expensive, lackluster experience or worse.

Listening instead of insisting also beats the experience a combative friend of mine had. In college he ordered a "Thai spicy" meal and was adamant that he receive it Thai spicy over the waiter's suggestions. He regrets it to this day and for the last twenty years has not ordered Thai spicy food.

In the end, a key lime pie you make by preserving and sugaring your own milk is not going to be any better than one you make with pre-made sweetened condensed milk from a tin can.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:47 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Atlanta fine dining establishment
Starts laughing.
Apologies. Sort of.
posted by adamvasco at 1:48 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


> "The ketchup-on-steak thing reminds me of the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird when Scout asks why the poor kid puts syrup on everything. Atticus tells her stfu, you're being rude, things like economics affect our tastes."

I've got to admit, whenever in the course of these kinds of discussions someone makes the, "But if you put ketchup on steak it is Ruined! Ruined!" argument, the possibility that they may have some unexamined classism issues is not far from my mind.
posted by kyrademon at 1:51 PM on December 22, 2017 [33 favorites]


the possibility that they may have some unexamined classism issues is not far from my mind.

I’m more worried about the unexamined ketchup issues.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I remember a kerfuffle in an Atlanta fine dining establishment when the chef came out to yell at some customers who had asked for salt

I don't even know the story and i'm already on team chef. If you're going somewhere with an actual chef, then you're not just paying for the food on the plate. Your paying for years of skill and understanding presented to you. Tossing salt on something that's been thoughtfully considered and crafted as a plate is an insult.

Defending well done steak with ketchup is like defending the culinary version of intellectual incuriosity. Fine. Eat like a picky 5 year old. Go ahead and have your limited palate of macaroni and chicken fingers. Tell me you hate all vegetables except potatoes. It's tacky AF and I will forever think that you're stunted.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:55 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


Consuming, using, and enjoying a thing differently than the way that other people think it should be consumed, used, or enjoyed, is not "wasting" it. jesus fucking christ. Haughtily expecting everyone to share your own elevated tastes is the essence of tedious smug fucking classism, and is tackier than anything anyone would want to put on their food.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:56 PM on December 22, 2017 [54 favorites]


One of my favorite bits in Kitchen Confidential is his sous throwing steaks ordered well done into the deep fat fryer. Now that is the proper way to prepare a well done steak.
posted by borges at 1:58 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


All I know is that now I need a better cheesemonger.

Hell, everyone needs a good cheesemonger.

Maybe I should become a cheesemonger. Where would one study cheesemongery?

And in conclusion, cheesemonger.
posted by MrVisible at 1:59 PM on December 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


Haughtily expecting everyone to share your own elevated tastes is the essence of tedious smug fucking classism...

Well, then I suppose I'm all for it. Well-done steak defeats its own purpose.
posted by borges at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


So - I lean on the side of the buyer here - once the cheese vendor has stated their case, they should not refuse to sell - let the customer be wrong if they want to be wrong.

That said, i’ve been eating sandwiches in France for the past 30 years and am a equally shocked and intrigued by the idea of putting saucisson and gruyère in the same bread, so what do I know .
posted by motdiem2 at 2:03 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I need you all to please stop squandering pixels that could be being used for gifs from The Room
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


the possibility that they may have some unexamined classism issues is not far from my mind

I always assume that same person would belly straight up for a tomato coulis and reduced balsamic drizzle.

The thing that I find increasingly irritating is that my palate is not the chef's. He doesn't have my cold, my medication that makes things taste slightly metallic, my hereditary sensitivity to sourness, my gallbladder, my teeth, or my preferences that are constructed from 45 years of experiences and cultural contexts. When I eat new things I do try them as-is, and sometimes I need to make an adjustment. Sometimes I know how I like things or that I'm not going to enjoy the food I'm paying for if I don't make an adjustment. It is not actually possible for someone else to know better than me what I like, want, or can tolerate. Refusing to even hear a request for reasonable accommodation - because yeah, of course someone somewhere is going to make impossible or unfeasible requests - is classist and ableist and often gaslighting, as the chef is doing this from a conviction of superiority. People should complain when it's done to them, so other diners can take that situation into consideration before visiting.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2017 [41 favorites]


poffin boffin: Consuming, using, and enjoying a thing differently than the way that other people think it should be consumed, used, or enjoyed, is not "wasting" it. jesus fucking christ.

Conservation is often a classist thing. Some people say that you can ruin a fragile ecosystem by driving 4x4s through it; other people say that's exactly how you make a fragile ecosystem awesome.

There appears to be a similar divide around rare cheese and fondue pots.
posted by clawsoon at 2:04 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Don't Ask for Salt.

Gareth: "Nothing else you wanted, was there?"

Customer: "What?"

Gareth: "A splash of Lea & Perrins? A dollop of Daddies to stir into the artichoke and Hollandaise coulis? It really is no trouble, we could send someone into town. I can get you any thing you like to enhance the flavor of your food. Salad Cream... Newman's Own... Branston Pickle. You only have to ask. A little Tabasco perhaps, or barbecue sauce. A spoonful of sandwich spread maybe. A nice packet of cheese and onion flavored crisps to sprinkle over your monkfish and salmon gratin. We could even get you a prawn vindaloo, or family sized pack of chicken drumsticks or menu beef for two persons with special fried rice and extra sweet and sour pork balls if you like, I mean we don't mind going to a bit of trouble to please the customers here, really. SALT!!! I'm going back to my kitchen now although GOD KNOWS WHY!!

I mean, do you have any idea of number of highly-skilled man hours over a three-day period have gone into producing this dish?! Which is brought to your table at the zenith of its powers? Its taste, flavors, texture and temperature at the peak of perfection, and WITHOUT TASTING IT YOU CALL FOR SALT?!?"

Lola: "Your salt, sir."

Gareth: "I hate you with a passion you can only dream of.... bon appétit."
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on December 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


As for myself, I'm with that rat's father: "Food is fuel, son. Now eat your garbage."

Perhaps I'll go have a chunk of No Name Cheddar and leave the other cheeses for people who can appreciate them.
posted by clawsoon at 2:07 PM on December 22, 2017


This feels familiar. When I try to look at right-leaning site, I think, "They hate me and want me to die." When I look at left-leaning sites, I think, "They think I'm an idiot and hold me in contempt."

I'd love to be able to appreciate "finer" things, but it's just not going to happen with food--I have an incredibly poor sense of taste (and smell)--my wife teases me for being paranoid about use-by dates or leaving something out of the refrigerator for more than a few minutes, but it's because I know that it could go bad and I wouldn't notice.
posted by Four Ds at 2:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


This thread is reminding me of the time in Denver when Mrs. Example and I were eating at one of our favorite Ethiopian restaurants. Yes, we had multiple favorite Ethiopian restaurants. FITE OUR 1ST WORLD PROBLEMS IRL

A couple of tables over, there was a guy who'd come in and ordered after us. His food arrived, and then...he asked for a knife and fork. Okay, not everybody is down for eating with their hands, so let him do his own thing and--

...he then asked for salt. And pepper. And motherfucking hot sauce.

Without even tasting the delicately-seasoned, exquisitely tasty food that the restaurant turned out on a regular basis, he proceeded to condiment the living shit out of it before eating it.

Only the fact that our table still had a bunch of (again, ungodly delicious) Ethiopian food on top of it kept me from flipping the table over and taking his meal away from him.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


This is very interesting. It's the idea that not all decisions should be made by money. You should not be allowed to waste a precious, rare resource just because you have the cash to do it. Someone who puts it to better use should get it instead, even if they have less money than you.

Yeah this is a cultural difference, not a moral absolute. I personally do not believe you should be allowed to ruin or misuse things because you can afford to. But then I'm European. Americans obviously do believe that, per this thread.
posted by fshgrl at 2:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [49 favorites]


> "steak and ketchup ... do we get into almost offensive wastefulness?"
> "Should they shit on your steak upon request too? ... or perhaps for food safety reasons they should at least allow one to take the steak to the bathroom and give it a wash in the urinal?"
> "Defending well done steak with ketchup is like defending the culinary version of intellectual incuriosity ... I will forever think that you're stunted."

Do y'all at least understand how completely insane this sounds, or do you genuinely think that unless the holy slab of meat is defended from the vile and depraved improper condiment with the magic sword of culturally correct palate pairings then the world will descend into chaos and madness?
posted by kyrademon at 2:09 PM on December 22, 2017 [38 favorites]


I've never really understood the appeal of steak. Like, it's just a big dull ol' slice of cooked meat, nothing else, but you can eat it wrong. I mean, why bother?
posted by Berreggnog at 2:10 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Do you know how insane it sounds to defend well done steak with ketchup?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:11 PM on December 22, 2017 [21 favorites]


I don't like ketchup on steak but this is making me want to eat that just as a matter of principle, now.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:13 PM on December 22, 2017 [23 favorites]


Previously regarding espresso on ice, which spawned this song.
posted by exogenous at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Maybe I should become a cheesemonger. Where would one study cheesemongery?

If that's what you really want, great, but do remember that any manufacturer of dairy products will inherit the Earth
posted by thelonius at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


Maybe I should become a cheesemonger. Where would one study cheesemongery?
http://www.cheesesociety.org/events-education/list-of-educators/

note that a lot of these are either active cheesemongers or cheesemaking dairies ... which lines up with the idea that becoming a cheesemonger is less about taking courses and more about apprenticing in the industry.

wrt that debate between gatekeepers and anarchists, I'm generally anarchist when it comes to some things where my palette underperforms (wine, coffee, chocolate), but if some chef will refuse to serve me a certain wine with a certain food, I'll still listen to them and amend my order. It doesn't make a difference to me. For cheese, my palette is responsive enough that I do care, and I feel sympathy for the gatekeeper side of the debate, if only because I do feel like losing a certain style of cheese to commercial callousness is not unlike seeing a plant or animal species go extinct just because they got in the way of us spending money.
posted by bl1nk at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


People. People. You're bringing steak knives to a cheese fight.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2017 [56 favorites]


tedious smug fucking classism

So this is the part where the story is about a French cheese store becomes terribly relevant. First, the class distinction; shopkeepers are not high status in France. They are respected, sure, but they are everday workers, maybe a small shop owner, certainly not elite nor aristocratic. Second, a good fromager is anything but tedious. He is expert and thoughtful and knowledgable about his product. He enjoys telling you about it and helping find the right cheese for you.

I'll give you smug though, or something that reads as smug to Americans. That certain kind of haughty pride that the French are famous for. It comes well earned, from years of learning your business and putting in years as an apprentice and then making your shop work. If you don't respect his advice on the cheese he sells, perhaps this cheese shop is not the shop for you.
posted by Nelson at 2:15 PM on December 22, 2017 [65 favorites]


> "Do you know how insane it sounds to defend well done steak with ketchup?"

So that would be a, "Yes, the world will descend into chaos and madness," then. Good to know, I guess.
posted by kyrademon at 2:16 PM on December 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


Consuming, using, and enjoying a thing differently than the way that other people think it should be consumed, used, or enjoyed, is not "wasting" it. jesus fucking christ. Haughtily expecting everyone to share your own elevated tastes is the essence of tedious smug fucking classism, and is tackier than anything anyone would want to put on their food.

Have you met the French?
posted by zarq at 2:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Cheese shop man acknowledges that he has a specific cheese? Loser!"

Unexpected Python is the best Python. Well done.
posted by indianbadger1 at 2:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


As a veteran of fondues... he should be able to weather a little flak from a single cheesemonger
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


So this is the part where the story is about a French cheese store becomes terribly relevant.

Sorry, I should point out that I was referring to the people in this thread and not the actual cheesemonger, who took the time to explain his reasoning and offer other options that he felt would be equally as enjoyable, rather than snottily dismissing the author as a tacky classless shit eating typical american.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [15 favorites]


*reading this thread*

*slowly dips stick of butter into caviar*
posted by Fizz at 2:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [30 favorites]


Ok, well go enjoy your Velveeta and Rotel then
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]



So that would be a, "Yes, the world will descend into chaos and madness," then. Good to know, I guess.


I would propose that we already have, and it wasn't a very far descent either.





See for example: ketchup on steak.

/s
posted by some loser at 2:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't even know the story and i'm already on team chef. If you're going somewhere with an actual chef, then you're not just paying for the food on the plate. Your paying for years of skill and understanding presented to you. Tossing salt on something that's been thoughtfully considered and crafted as a plate is an insult.

I wish I remembered if they asked for the salt before or after they tasted the food. I'm not sure which would be more provoking to the chef; before, I hope. People's palates are different.
posted by thelonius at 2:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


setting: sidewalk seating, cafe, Le Marais, Paris, 2004

bro: can i please have the cheese plate and a diet coke?
waiter: no. no diet coke with cheese. wine. red wine.
bro: it's 11am.
waiter: red wine or nothing. no diet coke.
bro: ok, red wine...can you bring me a diet coke when i'm done with the cheese?
waiter: hmmmmm...d'accord.

fin
posted by j_curiouser at 2:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [23 favorites]


Do you know how insane it sounds to defend well done steak with ketchup?

Well, since a well-done steak is impenetrable anyway, a ketchup moat seems as good a defense as say, a phalanx of cocktail umbrellas.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:24 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


Did y'all see the point of this story where this particular cheese is getting quite hard to come by? If I were a connoisseur shopkeep I would almost certainly prefer to sell rare things to people who would actually enjoy them.

Rather than ketchup on steak, this feels more like lighting cigars with $100 bills.
posted by hwyengr at 2:24 PM on December 22, 2017 [34 favorites]


Yeah this is a cultural difference, not a moral absolute. I personally do not believe you should be allowed to ruin or misuse things because you can afford to. But then I'm European. Americans obviously do believe that, per this thread.
the practice of ordering something and adding a 1001 modifiers and customizations to something that a professional had already designed and worked on ("I'd like the coq au vin, but with white wine as I have a red wine allergy, and can you make it vegetarian?") is colloquially referred to in the industry as "cheffing" and it is a very American practice.
posted by bl1nk at 2:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [22 favorites]


I was brought up to at least try as-is any entree that you've never had before or that's made by someone whose cooking you're not familiar with, rather than automatically adding a condiment before taking the first bite. If it needs something, then go for the salt/ketchup/hot sauce/whatever.

If someone else is cooking food for me, or as in the original case a knowlegeable person is offering presumably wise advice, I try to honor that rather than immediately get my back up if they're telling me something different to what I was thinking.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:26 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Definitely the person who has built their life around procuring and supplying something specialized should do whatever some random off the street says to do with their limited supply of said thing because that person has 20 whole dollars in their wallet *rolls eyes so hard he falls over*
posted by thedaniel at 2:28 PM on December 22, 2017 [15 favorites]


Yeah this is a cultural difference, not a moral absolute. I personally do not believe you should be allowed to ruin or misuse things because you can afford to. But then I'm European. Americans obviously do believe that, per this thread.

I am Caribbean, partly of Indian descent, and as a consequence I honestly have no respect for the way a lot of people cook their food -- and since I live in France and have to eat this baffling unseasoned chicken whenever I get caught out at lunchtime without the thing I curried the day before, French people especially. To me, maybe 80% percent of what they do is ruining and misusing ingredients. But I know I'm not really, actually right about that. The idea that there is a correct way to cook food (and that it's the way Europeans do it, omg) is ridiculous. But yes, very European.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:30 PM on December 22, 2017 [79 favorites]


The customer made a pretty noob cooking mistake regardless, I know because I often do it, which is the pitfall of believing that your dish will taste good by extrapolation to a new ingredient. If the author were more experienced they would have instinctively known to buy a smaller quantity and test his palate with that first. Especially with French cooking culture what is valued and internalized is cooking with one's senses, not the eyes/wallet/half-baked ideas. Just because a consumer has the money or a set of "preferences" doesn't mean an individual is free of incurring externalities where cultural goods are rival and excludable.

I get that there's a perception that the cheesemonger is wrong for being a prescriptivist. But invert that for a moment, and view the consumer here as the prescriptivist who was unwilling to listen, and tried to use money to buy their way into a culture.
posted by polymodus at 2:32 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


Unexpected Python is the best Python.

something something Spanish Inquisition something
posted by Daily Alice at 2:34 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


a ketchup moat seems as good a defense as say, a phalanx of cocktail umbrellas.

I don't recommend seasoning with cocktail umbrellas, those things are choking hazards. Don't ask me how I know.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:37 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Fine. Eat like a picky 5 year old.

Stated with all the skill of a haughty 15 year old who thinks their personal taste marks them for greatness.

As someone whose personal taste could be used as a litmus test for "what do stereotypical foodies who spend too much time thinking about food like?", I nonetheless beseech you: grow the fuck up.
posted by tocts at 2:38 PM on December 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


I get that there's a perception that the cheesemonger is wrong for being a prescriptivist. But invert that for a moment, and view the consumer here as the prescriptivist who was unwilling to listen, and tried to use money to buy their way into a culture.

It's melted cheese.

Melted. Cheese.

The guy isn't asking for citizenship. He's not trying to rise above his station.

He's trying to melt cheese on food.

A normal reaction: "I wouldn't recommend that sir. Here's why." [lengthy explanation]

A batshit insane reaction: Banning people from buying your cheese because you don't approve of the way it will be used.
posted by zarq at 2:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


If someone sketched a picture for you and you decided to improve it by painting a big red x over it. In front of them. It would be kind of rude. If you want to take it home and do it there, who cares.
posted by Greener Backyards at 2:40 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


In answer to espresso on ice: delicious. But what you want is Vietnamese drip coffee over ice and maybe some condensed milk. Now, I recall it was a combination of robusto and arabica that provides the strength for the inky soul on ice. Childhood really is not the same without it.

At times, it seems daunting to expand a social interaction. It is hard to have a conversation and then trust the other person for their expertise. As an American shopper we experience the upsell, rarely the rejection unless an item is not available. Which is why it seems even more jarring when we get a denial over something available. Throw in both the cultural and individual contexts of food tastes and then hooboy. People love knowledge but messenger counts. The cheesemonger was able to explain the why. The purchaser has the right to decline the advice all the way to going to the super marché to get that block o' cheese to melt into goo. I guess what I am saying is I am OK with the cheesemonger's rationale and am OK with taking my prôle, but proud ass elsewhere.
posted by jadepearl at 2:42 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


if I cared about and really loved cheese, and I only had one remaining wedge of a specific and special kind of cheese that is no longer made, I, as the owner of a shop, should be allowed to sell that cheese to whoever I know will also appreciate it.
posted by bl1nk at 2:42 PM on December 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


But these are ultimately matters of taste preference, and if I like something a certain way and know that, then that's the end of it. It is not "correct" or "better" to do something a certain way regarding matters of preference. If I know how I like something because I like it that way, then anyone who tells me I am wrong is not, in fact, correct. They are wrong and stupid.

I wonder how many retailers refuse custom requests because they are a very good proxy indicator for the 1% of customers that will be a chronic pain in the ass.
posted by benzenedream at 2:43 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Ok, well go enjoy your Velveeta and Rotel then

ha ha some people can only afford inexpensive cheese and for this they deserve our derision
posted by poffin boffin at 2:44 PM on December 22, 2017 [38 favorites]


He's trying to melt cheese on food.

That's not what fondue is.
posted by Nelson at 2:44 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


That's not what fondue is.

You know what i mean.
posted by zarq at 2:45 PM on December 22, 2017


Ctrl+F "I 'ardly know 'er"
0 results
posted by J.K. Seazer at 2:45 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Do y'all at least understand how completely insane this sounds

I mean, I assume there's a reason you somewhat uncharitably trimmed away about half my comment to make it look super unreasonable - it's not about the "culturally incorrect" pairing of any old steak and ketchup, but a super expensive cut being paired with sauce that's gonna hardly let you taste the damn thing. Like a cheap steak sandwich with ketchup is great, who gives a shit, but why blow a ton of money on something delicious and then barely taste it.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:46 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Have we devolved into the cheese pun stage of the thread yet?
posted by Start with Dessert at 2:47 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I tend to think of eating out at a nice restaurant in the same way as I think of attending a concert. The people who take it personally if the artists doesn't "play the hits" confuse me in the same way as the people who want to alter the food presented to you by the chef.

You're paying for a tailored experience meticulously crafted by the artist in question. Order something else, go to a different restaurant, or cook yourself if you don't like what's presented.
posted by dreamlanding at 2:48 PM on December 22, 2017 [20 favorites]


Have we devolved into the cheese pun stage of the thread yet?

I've got gouda news for you!
posted by Fizz at 2:49 PM on December 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


I've got gouda news for you!
Could you Brie any more cheesy?
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 2:51 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


Ok, well go enjoy your Velveeta and Rotel then

You mean.... delicious queso dip? Made with cheese that has been specially produced to be as melty and diplike as possible, mixed with tomatoes that have been bred for flavor and canned at the peak of that flavor instead of being bred to look shiny on a supermarket shelf and tasty jalapenos? Don't mind if I do.

Seriously, dudes, what the actual fuck. The cheese is not a "fragile ecosystem" because cheese is not a limited public resource. If this particular aged cheese is becoming rarer because the companies who make the cheese find that demand for unaged cheese makes the aged version not worth producing, that is perhaps the fault of the people who don't make sufficiently clear that they would prefer to pay for the aging process. or something. If there was demand and the will to produce it--and the money to purchase it--we could make theoretically infinite stores of aged Beaufort cheese.
posted by sciatrix at 2:51 PM on December 22, 2017 [26 favorites]


Except in the snootiest of restaurants I haven't met any chefs that really care that much about what people want to put on their steaks once they're done cooking them, because who has the time and energy for that?

I mean, yeah, they might be personally bummed out if someone is taking a really nice grass fed small farm steak and covering it in Heinz, but ultimately they just want you to eat, pay your bill and go away happy.

And, anyway, my favorite chefs that I've worked with would be more like "No, drop the Heinz. Let's whip you up some special fancy ketchup if you're going to put ketchup on that steak."

Would I simply feel that the steak was so inherently delicious and well-prepared that I wouldn't want anything on it?

My honest answer is if the steak is that good you just dip bits of it in its own juices.

But I've also had totally disappointing steaks in upscale places that were supposed to be known for their steaks. The best steaks I've ever had is when I cooked them myself and went out to a farmer's market or butcher and picked out my own porterhouse or something.

Steaks really aren't that complicated. 90% of the work involved in cooking a steak is really about picking a good steak. Cooking a good steak cut is as simple as throwing it in a hot cast iron pan or skillet for about 5-8 minutes on a side and maybe finishing it off and resting it in a hot oven if it's a really thick porterhouse. And using a meat thermometer.

On preview: A bunch of people talking about the sanctity of good steaks.

Yeah, you know what working cooks and chefs don't really talk about or in the kitchen? Steaks or how people eat them. They're dead easy to make, whether sous vide or pan fried or on the open flame of a salamander or breaded and tossed into a fryolater. Steaks are boring. They don't really care what you put on them.

The proteins that chefs get excited about tend to be things like duck or doing big, slow loin roasts with complicated sauces or reductions.

I think the only time I've seen a chef get excited about beef is if they actually met or fed the steer and they're going to help butcher it at their friend's farm and buy half a cow from them or something wilder than opening another box of Sysco vacuum bagged steaks to defrost.

I would have a more cogent and flavorful argument to present, but I'm currently trying to make and eat peanut butter sandwiches at my desk with a cold cat on my lap. I'm even washing it down with grape juice and handfuls of fried canned onions, because I'm sick in the head like that.

Anyway, I'll be over here with the food anarchists stealing the packets of cheese powder out of macaroni and cheese boxes to put on popcorn and eating weird combinations of food because I like it, that's why.

Also, why the fuck is fondue making a huge comeback? I know coke's getting popular again, and I've heard macrame is a new old thing. Where's Jimmy Carter?

Ah, damnit I ran out of grape juice halfway through my sandwich and the cat left and now my lap is cold. Pass the ketchup.
posted by loquacious at 2:51 PM on December 22, 2017 [28 favorites]


I'm on team cheesemonger here, in that truly good cheese is a magical thing and doesn't deserve to be wasted in fondues. Oddly, I don't find even good steaks to be nearly as magical so I don't care if people char them and slop ketchup on them. But, if a steakmonger took great pride in her steaks and gave me instructions on how to cook them, I would probably try to follow them, on the assumption she knows more. Which is not at all the same thing as keeping steak sauce around for when you're reheating leftovers. Which I do.
posted by emjaybee at 2:52 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I figure that, if you get to the point in your career where you have the option of turning down business that you find objectionable (that don't involve discriminating against actual humans), good for you. Back when I had the option of turning down work, there were jobs I've not taken because I didn't approve of what they were doing or because I thought there was something fundamentally ill-advised about what they were asking. Why should a cheesemonger not have that option too?

I mean, I don't cook for money, but I cook socially pretty often, and it bugs me when someone starts modifying something I've made, especially before even trying it the way I made it. I can only imagine how I'd feel if it was my life's work.

PS Mr. Bad Example: Please tell me it wasn't Queen of Sheba. I don't get out there enough these days, but I want to fight that guy if he disrespected her.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:52 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


I have most sympathy for the cheesemonger when I imagine myself as a seller of fine watches.

"I'll take that one."
"An excellent choice, sir. Two thousand hours of craftsmanship went into creating it; it is one of only ten in the world."
"I'm gonna toss it in my glove compartment."
"Sir! You're going to do what??"

Which shows me, I think, that I have more appreciation for mechanical craftsmanship than for cheffery.
posted by clawsoon at 2:52 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


That is such a French attitude :)

But it can be taken too far, I once had a bartender in Paris refuse to make me a gin & tonic with Bombay Saphire, he admently wanted to use a cheaper gin, I was annoyed, it's just Bombay I'm not asking for a 30 year old single malt on the rocks! (That last request would be something you have to refuse)
posted by WaterAndPixels at 2:53 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


On the way to the bathroom, I accidentally stepped into a wormhole which took me to one of the mirror universes. Everything about it seemed the same until I started overheard my foodie co-worker berate his less cultured office mate: "Of course you always put ketchup on steak! That's how it's done by all the best French chefs. How else are you going to bring out the delicate flavors?!? Eating a steak plain? And rare? That's for peasants. Where were you raised? Iowa?!? I knew it!"

And then I realized the mirror universe, while being completely different, was not the least bit different.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 2:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


poffin boffin: ha ha some people can only afford inexpensive cheese and for this they deserve our derision

That's what's so interesting about this story, though: The cheesemonger indicated that he would rather sell that particular cheese to someone with less money but more appreciation.
posted by clawsoon at 2:58 PM on December 22, 2017 [22 favorites]


The customer is always right, even when they are dead wrong. Be sure to smile and nod when you take their money. You are there to relieve them of their excess cash, not to educate them...
posted by jim in austin at 3:00 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


In other words: The cheesemonger is requiring cultural capital as part of the sale price. He won't allow that part of the price to be replaced with financial capital.

Which is foreign to my middle-class Anglosphere upbringing, especially since it's happening in a store.
posted by clawsoon at 3:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


I think my position on this whole “are certain preferences indicative of moral failure” question can be accurately inferred from the fact that whenever we have a party, my wife and I make a point of serving the Double Stuff Oreos out of the Waterford crystal bowl.
posted by nickmark at 3:03 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


The customer is most definitely not always right!

Money can't buy integrity!

Having said that I really just find this to be a funny story and if it had happened to me I would have gone somewhere else. I mean, who are you going to complain to? The cheese police?
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:04 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: The Cheese Police.
posted by loquacious at 3:05 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


It's not a French thing. I can see parallels happening with a real Chinese pork butcher in Hong Kong, or a sushi chef at a high end restaurant in NYC. There's more to consider and people who work with food might actually know about issues that consumers aren't aware of and so make assumptions about. Americans see food as abundant. To Americans, food is an abstraction. There's a tendency to analyze this world (food arises out of labor and land ownership) under a limited microeconomic framework of supply and demand.

The cheesemonger indicated that he would rather sell that particular cheese to someone with less money but more appreciation.

That was my immediate thought too. Food that is not mass produced is extremely costly to make, on pain of labor. Has anyone here even tried to work with difficult ingredients starting from scratch? Without that experience it's hard to convey the amount of thought that actually has to go into that. The problem solving, the tending: if anything, the 65 euro per kilo was theoretically underpriced. And to see something you've helped make be subject to the whims of a capitalist economy, why should it be so alien to think the seller would view certain uses as a waste? That was clear at the beginning of the article.
posted by polymodus at 3:06 PM on December 22, 2017 [21 favorites]


The cheese police?

They live inside of my head
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:06 PM on December 22, 2017 [30 favorites]


The cheese police?

Guess what happened in Scotland this Summer?
posted by zarq at 3:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


They don't even have ketchup and steak sauce available at Ruth's Chris. You just don't do that to a $60 steak. Outback will happily accommodate you.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:09 PM on December 22, 2017


They also might serve you a better steak.
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:11 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Ooh ooh ooh, I get to say it! Yay!

Would you let someone put ketchup on the Mona Lisa?!?
posted by BeeDo at 3:16 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


But honestly if I want to scrub my floors with champagne or feed foie gras to a spoiled cat then I'm going to do so, and there will always be someone else willing to take my money.

That's an insult to not only the wine makers, foie gras makers, and force-fed fowl involved, but also to anyone who might long for foie gras or champagne but be unable to afford it. It'd be like burning a fifty quid note in front of a homeless panhandler because hey, fuck you, it's my money, I can do what I want. Yeah, maybe you can, but maybe you also shouldn't. Maybe anyone who could step in and intervene to stop you would be a-okay to do so.


If this particular aged cheese is becoming rarer because the companies who make the cheese find that demand for unaged cheese makes the aged version not worth producing, that is perhaps the fault of the people who don't make sufficiently clear that they would prefer to pay for the aging process. or something. If there was demand and the will to produce it--and the money to purchase it--we could make theoretically infinite stores of aged Beaufort cheese.

That's a lot of faith in the inherent fairness and allocative efficiency of capitalism. Maybe the people who crave the aged stuff are able to pay enough to make that profitable, but are nevertheless outbid by impatient people who want the name, or don't care about aging. Does having money make their desires more correct, more worthy of being fulfilled? Because that's kind of what you're saying. Maybe the lead time makes it a less attractive business proposition even if was as our more profitable to age it, because you can't support yourself for those initial two years until the first batch is aged. Maybe the markets just prefer a quick buck even if it's a worse product and profit. Maybe the markets don't have prefect knowledge, and aren't willing to take a risk on a product that might sell be both more profitable and better. Maybe being more profitable shouldn't matter, really. Markets aren't a particularly good or fair way to allocate things.


In my fully automated luxury gay space communist utopia, it'll be from each according to ability, to each according to need, and once everyone's needs are legitimately met, to each according to ability to appreciate it. If you'd be just as happy with the less expensive and rare cheese, it's more overall efficient to give you that, and give the rare stuff to someone to whom it will effect greater enjoyment than the less expensive stuff.
posted by Dysk at 3:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [41 favorites]


It's not just that the cheesemonger thought it would ruin the taste or that he disagreed with the customer's preferences, it was that he recognized that particular cheese as a limited commodity that shouldn't be wasted on a less than ideal use. If he sells it to me and I waste it on foolish things, it means that much less is available for better purposes. As he is a cheesemonger, I would respect his judgment. Also, as a cheese fanatic, I would be pissed to learn you wasted good cheese when you could have sufficed with something cheaper and more easily replaced.

"Coke vs. Pepsi" is a matter of opinion. Stopping you from entering a irreplaceable Colby Mustang into a demolition derby, just because you can afford it, is preservation.
posted by ga$money at 3:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


Paging The Wrong Kind of Cheese to the white courtesy telephone.
posted by drlith at 3:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Would you let someone put ketchup on the Mona Lisa?!?

Only if she first gives consent.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Would you let someone put ketchup on the Mona Lisa?!?

Well, the painting is well-done...
posted by clawsoon at 3:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


I would totally buy a Colby Mustang.. I think I'm coming around now guys because I don't think I'd be able to resist eating it instead of driving it.
posted by some loser at 3:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Certainly everyone has some kind of analogue where they could understand the 'snobbery' of objecting to someone misusing some rare commodity. Like, maybe I'm going to buy some super-rare collector cards for something you like and use them to clean scooge out from between my bathroom tiles. I'm buying up the first ten rows of tickets to see your favorite band and giving them to Bank of America executives who may or may not even show up. It wasn't actually the author who bought that cheese. It was Martin Shkreli, he bought all of it, and he's going to store it in a humidor along with that Wu Tang album.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:22 PM on December 22, 2017 [24 favorites]


Unexpected Python is the best Python.

something something Spanish Inquisition something



from weapons import fear, surprise, ruthless_efficiency
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:24 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Also:

PS Mr. Bad Example: Please tell me it wasn't Queen of Sheba.

It's been ten-plus years, but we're pretty sure it was Abyssinia right off of Colorado and Colfax. Man, I miss that place.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


This may be the most Metafilter thread I have ever read.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:28 PM on December 22, 2017 [33 favorites]


Metafilter: someone refusing entirely to listen to my own opinion on the subject of *what my own personal preferences are* because they do not have those preferences
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 3:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


“My cheese monger is so good he denied me cheese.”

Seems like this is a Gallic mistranslation of a Python sketch.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I love this thing that's been little noticed: this guy spent an hour arguing with the cheesemonger to get his cheese. I love the entitlement implicit in that fact.
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:30 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Given my MetaFilter name, it's too bad my entire comment can't be just my name.

On the one hand, I think people are entitled to their classist beliefs right up until it bumps against my preferred tastes. I generally haven't been able to abide the taste of meat my entire life. I also wouldn't eat any tomato-based foods (including pizza) until I was in my twenties, and still, other than salsa, would gladly avoid tomatoes entirely. So I wouldn't put ketchup on steak, or even order steak cooked to any temperature. Because I don't like it. But the idea of telling someone else what they can add to something they've ordered because it's not "right" is ridiculous.

Maybe the steak only has the right texture or consistency in someone's mouth if there's a cold, tomatoey sauce on it and otherwise it tastes like hot dead animal. Yes, it's tacky, but that's a social construct. It's still just hot dead animal, no matter how much extra effort went into preparing the meal. In college, I used to like Zweiback toast dipped in Marie's garlic Italian salad dressing. For all I know, I still do. If a restaurant has ketchup (or salt, or whatever), telling you that your mouth is WRONG for preferring something with it is beyond calling tacky "tacky." If a particular kind of cheese tastes dazzlingly yummy to you (or even if you think it would), the cheesemonger than advise, hell, even make you sign a document saying you were advised otherwise, but then should let you go on your merry way.

I AM the Wrong Kind of Cheese, and I approved this message.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 3:32 PM on December 22, 2017 [20 favorites]


I think for some of us, the problem is that the "misuse" here consumes the commodity...but so does the proper use. It's not like taking a painting that can be admired for centuries and defacing it so that it can't be. It's not like taking a car that can be of service/admired for years and destroying it. It's not taking a fragile ecosystem which (while it will certainly change) could thrive and wrecking it. It's taking something that is meant to be eaten, and eating it.

You can certainly argue that this is a suboptimal use, in that the person who wants to eat it here will not get as much pleasure from the act as another person, and it's certainly within the rights of someone invested in the commodity to want that pleasure to be maximized...but under that logic, I should probably be restricted to whatever mixture of gruel and fresh vegetables could keep me healthy, as I will not get as much pleasure from food as almost anyone else will (see my above comment about my poor sense of taste). (Also see this comic about Felix.) My actual response to my poor sense of taste is that I'm never going to spend much money on buying expensive food because I feel it would be a waste of my money, but I'm still going to buy stuff I like and eat it in a way I like it.

I don't think I'm actually out on either of the extremes on this one, but I do occasionally feel real flashes of anger when someone says, "Well, if you eat your food like this, you're an idiot/cretin/Philistine/child."
posted by Four Ds at 3:35 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


This is exactly why we have climate change deniers. Because some of you people choose not to listen to the experts. Thanks for destroying the planet, you monsters.
posted by cazoo at 3:36 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


kyrademon: Do y'all at least understand how completely insane this sounds, or do you genuinely think that unless the holy slab of meat is defended from the vile and depraved improper condiment with the magic sword of culturally correct palate pairings then the world will descend into chaos and madness?

Just wait until they find out what the human digestive tract is going to do to that steak...
posted by dr_dank at 3:37 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this thread is about libertarianism vs. communism.
posted by clawsoon at 3:37 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Or maybe libertarianism vs. authoritarianism.
posted by clawsoon at 3:38 PM on December 22, 2017


Dysk wins the Metafilter Plate of Beans Award™!

This is the cheese FPP that saved Christmas.

Also; Metafilter chat could be like this if more people turned up outside of events.
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Have we devolved into the cheese pun stage of the thread yet?

Does it come before or after the condenscending moralizing stage?
posted by thelonius at 3:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


“My cheese monger is so good he denied me cheese.”

It's like jazz, man. You've got to appreciate the cheeses they don't sell you.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 3:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [26 favorites]


Does it come before or after the condenscending moralizing stage?

It was a trick question: Any time is cheese pun time!
posted by Start with Dessert at 3:41 PM on December 22, 2017


Unexpected Python is the best Python.

"right, then - well, if i can't have something that doesn't have spam in it, can i at least have ketchup to kill the taste?"

"ketchup? ketchup on spam? you daft bastard, where did you learn that horrid habit, france?"
posted by pyramid termite at 3:41 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


An interesting thing about MetaFilter:
People are excruciatingly polite when disagreeing about, like, war crimes or systemic oppression, but eat cheese wrong? CLAWS ARE OUT
posted by Krawczak at 3:43 PM on December 22, 2017 [22 favorites]


In the movie The Magic Christian, a wealthy man (Peter Sellers) buys an expensive Rembrandt from a stuffy art dealer (John Cleese). After taking delivery of the painting he takes out some scissors and starts cutting out the nose in the painting, while the art dealer practically has a heart attack.

Different lines of thought:
We should be free to do whatever we want with our money vs
we can have respect for and to even require high standards for crafts that require a lot of work and sometimes have centuries of tradition behind them.

These two lines of thought are not necessarily opposites, which makes for the interesting conversation.
posted by eye of newt at 3:44 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


lol the champagne comment was a fucking joke, what kind of moron wants sticky floors?

I'd still give a cat fois gras bc cats are perfect flawless creatures who deserve to throw up the finest foodstuffs into my slippers
posted by poffin boffin at 3:45 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


People are excruciatingly polite when disagreeing about, like, war crimes or systemic oppression, but eat cheese wrong? CLAWS ARE OUT

*adjusts monocle*

“There's war and then there's cheese.”
posted by Fizz at 3:45 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


Eric Idle - Well at least he had some cheese in his shop....
posted by unliteral at 3:46 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


> "I assume there's a reason you somewhat uncharitably trimmed away about half my comment to make it look super unreasonable ..."

I'm sorry if I mischaracterized what you said. My apologies.

I will say that your point still sounds unreasonable to me with the full context; I trimmed it because I thought quoting three full other posts at the top of my comment would make it unreadable, so I tried to reduce them to what I saw as their essentials. My intention was not to paint you in a bad light.

However, I do agree that leaving out some of your words changed the apparent meaning from "lots of ketchup on expensive steak" to "steak on ketchup in general", and therefore read as a different point from the one you were trying to make. Sorry.
posted by kyrademon at 3:55 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't particularly care how people choose to eat their food, but I definitely side with team cheesemonger here just because I don't think any person should be required to bow to your demands just because you wave money in their face.
posted by markr at 3:56 PM on December 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


I will suggest that there may be a middle ground between "anyone who wishes to sell anything must genuflect and abase themselves before the almighty dollar" and "it is not only your right but your duty to refuse service to anyone you suspect might use your product in a manner not to your personal liking".
posted by kyrademon at 4:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


I can't help but think that if you're in a store that sells super expensive cheese attempting to buy super expensive cheese, and you are a person who is going to go on to write a column--it's not that I don't think gatekeeping and classism happens, but I don't see any reason to say that it was happening to this guy or that it is always happening when people talk about putting ketchup on expensive steak. Plenty of rich people also do not actually have much level of food appreciation. I don't think that's a problem, but I think if food isn't your thing in that respect, then you're going to need to live with the fact that some of that world is not going to indulge you everything you want just because you can afford it, and that the far more likely classism problem is wealthy people insisting that restaurant/store staff do things their way instead of the restaurant/store's way, rather than the other way around.

The gatekeeping here re: steak or anything else is far more of an issue coming from one's peers than it actually is coming from restaurants, some of which will do this but relatively few of which will be as rude about it as random people on the internet.
posted by Sequence at 4:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't think any person should be required to bow to your demands just because you wave money in their face.

I certainly don't either, and I think it's reasonable for the cheesemonger to want to sell it to someone who will appreciate it.

I'll admit, when I first read the title, about the customer not always being right, I assumed this was going to be about the way a lot of Americans seem to take it (this based on reading horror stories from retail/restaurant workers), as the customer can make any old demand they want and gosh darn it, they should always be catered to. I strongly dislike this attitude.

In this case, though, the "demands" boiled down to "That thing you sell? I would like to buy it, at the price you are offering it at for sale." I don't really think agreeing to that should be characterized as "having to bow to your demands just because you wave money."
posted by Four Ds at 4:04 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


Or maybe libertarianism vs. authoritarianism.

Under libertarianism, the cheesemonger is free to withhold his cheese on arbitrary conditions.
Under authoritarianism, the cheesemonger must sell his cheese to anyone presenting enough legal tender.

Under libertarianism, the customer is free to purchase any cheese and do whatever they want with it.
Under authoritarianism, they are subject to the cheesemonger's judgment of their selections and purposes.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:05 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I like the idea of cheesemonger professional ethics. I can’t sell a trade or a deal to a client that I think isn’t right for him no matter how much he wants it or would pay for it. Why should abusing a fine rare cheese be different?
posted by MattD at 4:07 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


My husband abhors ketchup for any purpose. (His brother used to drink it out of the bottle.) I enjoy ketchup on steak, although I prefer it with steak sauce, which is often less available.

We compromise. When he makes steak, he also makes grilled onions or mushrooms to go on the steak, which I find an acceptable substitute. And I continue to tell him that, as far as I'm concerned, steak is unfinished hamburger.

He uses maple syrup on his pancakes. I use Log Cabin or similar on mine. And he mostly has stopped trying to push me at "better" foods that (1) I don't enjoy as much and (2) cost more.

We have had long, frustrating arguments about whether certain foods should be eaten in a particular way, or whether some foods are intrinsically better than others. We have continued the arguments into debates on classism and whether he actually wants me to enjoy food, or if I'm expected to enjoy food "the right way" or it doesn't count.

I am not a supertaster; fine distinctions of flavor are lost on me. On the one hand, I'd never push hard for adding this or that specific aged cheese to a fondue. On the other, if I ordered steak (which, erm, I probably wouldn't) and a restaurant refused to provide a sauce I liked for it, I'd happily just dip it into the soup instead. Or maybe the salad dressing.

I could entirely see myself cutting off little strips of steak, dipping them in thousand-island dressing, and wrapping them in the dinner rolls to eat as tiny sandwiches.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:14 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I think it's totally reasonable for the Paris cheese monger to insist that his customers use the cheese they pay him for in a manner that he approves of - so long as his customers also get to tell him how he is allowed to spend the money they will be exchanging for the cheese.

"Oh, no, no!" I will tell him. "This money could be put to such good use! I will only let you have it if you promise not to spend it on toilet paper!"
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 4:16 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


> This may be the most Metafilter thread I have ever read.

Overthinking a plate of cheese . . .
posted by flug at 4:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


This thread is a lot less joyful than the one I expected when I saw >150 comments on cheese.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 4:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [18 favorites]


It seems to me the ethics here depend on whether or not eating a food "wrong" actually deprives someone else of a significant opportunity. Does wasting the good cheese in a fondou mean that your neighbor will miss a rare and fantastic cheese experience?

I cringe when I watch someone pour mixers into an 18 year old peaty whisky. But, the world isn't short on good whisky. If you enjoy drinking Islay-sours, it doesn't mean I will be deprived. If everyone does it, I may have to pay a little bit more until production catches up, but that's no big deal. Go for it!

On the other hand, if you tell me you want to buy a pre-Columbian codex specifically so you can use it to light your cigars. . . you're a bad person. Even if you buy it from the regional organization that legitimately has the right to sell it and pay them an institution-changing amount. Not because it's a aesthetically ugly, but because it removes so much value from the world.

I suspect two year old Beaufort in France is a lot more like the good whisky than codices. If it were a much rarer cheese. . . it would be slightly less obvious.

In an effort to offend everyone, I'd also argue that catsup and steak were made for each other: both are inevitably disappointing, bland, and a wasted opportunity to consume calories that actually taste like something. The steak connoisseur and the catsup hound should be friends.
posted by eotvos at 4:22 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


In this case, though, the "demands" boiled down to "That thing you sell? I would like to buy it, at the price you are offering it at for sale." I don't really think agreeing to that should be characterized as "having to bow to your demands just because you wave money."

But that thing they sell, they also sell to people who aren't you. Sellers of goods and services have to take into account not just the current customer, but also all of their other current and future customers when they engage in a particular transaction. If they make the decision that selling to you is going to maybe not be good for the business, why do you get to override their judgment on that? You're the one who decided that they're making that thing available for purchase by literally everybody. Maybe buying their professional judgment is part of the deal they're offering.

I can certainly see cases where this could be handled badly, but I don't think this is one of them, and I think small businesses of all sorts do this kind of call all the time. I've seen plenty of CPA firms discontinuing services for clients who could totally pay the bill just because they were more hassle than any amount of fee increase would cover. I don't see this as different. That I am making this available for sale does not mean I am agreeing to sell it to you personally, because selling it to you personally may not actually be good for my business, even just in terms of my enjoying the work I do.
posted by Sequence at 4:23 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


sandettie light vessel automatic: The cheese police?

They live inside of my head


Rennet free?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [18 favorites]


I'd also argue that catsup and steak were made for each other

that is not how it is spelled
posted by thelonius at 4:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


so long as his customers also get to tell him how he is allowed to spend the money they will be exchanging for the cheese.

There are places I won't shop at because of how they spend their money.
posted by tychotesla at 4:31 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


This may be the most Metafilter thread I have ever read.

It certainly is one that beautifully illustrates the hazards of argument by analogy.
posted by Kat Allison at 4:32 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


i was bitching about this thread via txt to a thankful non-mefite and i typo'd metafilter as METAFILET and i will put ketchup on that filet and no one can stop me
posted by poffin boffin at 4:32 PM on December 22, 2017 [20 favorites]


I’m French and i’m on the customer’s side, not because he’s right, he’s not, but because I hate cheese. So buy all that expensive shit that smell like death, melt it away and put it in a dumpster where it belongs. Fuck cheese.
posted by SageLeVoid at 4:34 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


I never metafilet I didn't like.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 4:34 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


I think it's totally reasonable for the Paris cheese monger to insist that his customers use the cheese they pay him for in a manner that he approves of - so long as his customers also get to tell him how he is allowed to spend the money they will be exchanging for the cheese.

Hmm... maybe if you brought in a rare coin to pay for the rare cheese.
posted by clawsoon at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


[Steak is] inevitably disappointing, bland, and a wasted opportunity to consume calories that actually taste like something.

Not sure if trolling, or a terrible cook.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:40 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


There are places I won't shop at because of how they spend their money.

Indeed. Me as well. So if a merchant wishes to get precious with me about how I intend to use their product, I am honestly fine insisting for the same transparency on how they will be spending my money.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 4:41 PM on December 22, 2017


And then the cheesemonger said, "If you melt that cheese, I'm going to melt this coin!"
posted by clawsoon at 4:44 PM on December 22, 2017


My 9 yr old american brought up daughter stolidly resists my Dutch prescriptivist admonishments that mayonnaise is the proper condiment for fries. Not her prefered ketchup.
posted by jouke at 4:47 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Are people creating cheese-flavoured sockpuppets just for this thread, or has it really brought out every legit user with something to do with cheese in their name?

Blast Hardcheese hasn't shown up yet, so I'm not sure what to think.
posted by clawsoon at 4:47 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


The rare cheese is the thing that they sell. The rarity is already calculated into the price. The coin doesn't have to be rare, because the coin is already more valuable than the cheese (unless the monger is a terrible businessman and is selling at a loss). Unless the monger refuses to sell to anyone other than personal friends, he never actually knows what happens to that cheese once it leaves the shop.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 4:48 PM on December 22, 2017


I hate cheese.

Sad now. But of course, as they say, more for me. Also - I wonder if the customer is merely a potential one until goods and money have been exchanged? In a shop this is well-defined. In a restaurant, where one may want ketchup on steak, it's not: Once you sit down, the exchange has begun.
posted by goofyfoot at 4:49 PM on December 22, 2017


I paid extra for this cheesy sockpuppet just for this thread (but only because I knew that I was thereby depriving someone who really might have loved it from ever getting their hands on it).
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 4:52 PM on December 22, 2017 [19 favorites]


I like the idea of cheesemonger professional ethics.

Well, that classic old famous family cheese shop with the high counter where you can't actually see the wheel get sliced never failed to disappoint. You know the one.
posted by ovvl at 4:52 PM on December 22, 2017


Fromage`a Trois: The rarity is already calculated into the price.

Yes, and part of the price is a demonstration of social capital for which the seller refuses to accept money instead of.
posted by clawsoon at 4:53 PM on December 22, 2017


If someone buying a Stradivarius for millions says that they're going to use it for firewood, should the seller attempt to dissuade them and/or refuse to sell to them?
posted by clawsoon at 4:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was in Strasbourg and wandered into a coffee shop to get a latte to go.

This set the proprietor off - he went on quite a tirade about how (a) one should never put coffee into a paper cup and (b) one should never take a coffee to go, but instead sit down, perhaps by that table just outside, and savor the damn thing, in a proper cup, taking requisite time to ponder on our limited existence in this world.

I thought it good advice, and I'm passing along.
posted by parki at 4:58 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


And part of the value of my business is a demonstration of social capital for which the buyer refuses to be grilled on how I intend to eat my cheese. Pun intended.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 4:58 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


You should never say "pun intended". If your pun was successful, people noticed it, and now you look insecure and needy. If it wasn't, you seem sad as well as attention-seeking.
posted by thelonius at 5:01 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


the buyer refuses to be grilled

I mean, that's pretty good. But then you had to ruin it!
posted by thelonius at 5:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


If someone is selling a Stradivarius for millions, I would be offended if they even presumed to ask me what I was going to do with it, as I am not a fucking idiot. And that cheese isn't a fucking Stradivarius, or even a cheese equivalent.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 5:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


You should never say "pun intended". If your pun was successful, people noticed it, and now you look insecure and needy. If it wasn't, you seem sad as well as attention-seeking.

That's the smartest thing I've read in this entire thread.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 5:04 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Fromage`a Trois: And that cheese isn't a fucking Stradivarius, or even a cheese equivalent.

And that - the fact that you don't see deep cultural value in cheese - is why you're not a Parisian cheesemonger. :-)

(I don't see it, either. But I can see how someone else might see it.)
posted by clawsoon at 5:06 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


If someone buying a Stradivarius for millions says that they're going to use it for firewood, should the seller attempt to dissuade them and/or refuse to sell to them?

how is this in any way similar to a person who wants to buy cheese to eat it

a correct analogy would be someone who wanted to buy a strad to play nickleback covers
posted by poffin boffin at 5:06 PM on December 22, 2017 [36 favorites]


a correct analogy would be someone who wanted to buy a strad to play nickleback covers

Now, let's not do anything crazy.
posted by zarq at 5:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


I remember, several years ago, I was in the middle of downsizing and needing to sell off a few possessions that wouldn't have fit into my new apartment, one of which was a cross country touring bicycle. It was the sort of thing that was purpose built for riding from, say, Seattle to Patagonia or to just be pointed at the horizon and chase a sunset. I had taken it on a few cross country long weekend rides around New England, but I knew that I wasn't going to have time in the near future to give it the sort of epic journey that it well and truly deserved. So I put it on Craigslist.

Now touring bikes like these tend to be really popular as commuter bikes (which was its other main purpose in my life, and the other major change that I had in my life was getting a new job with a much shorter commute, for which a touring bike is certainly overkill) ... and on one hand, I wouldn't begrudge someone who just took it on 5 mile commutes between home and office, but I still felt like I owed the bike a chance at this big adventure.

yeah, I'm totally anthropomorphizing the bike, but it sort of happens when you spend a lot of hours with a vehicle and project a personality on all of its weird quirks and foibles.

Anyway, someone that I vaguely knew from a bike forum found the ad and contacted me, and I had them look at the bike. They were interested in it and wanted to buy it, but I said to them: "if you buy this bike from me, you need to take it on an adventure. That is what it was built for. Promise me that."

They were taken a bit aback, but they said, "Yeah, totally. That sounds awesome." We shook on it. I sold him the bike, and he rode off.

Then apparently, two weeks later, he was sharing some of my stories with his friends, and musing about how he really could go anywhere with this bike, and at that moment decided that he was going to ride from Boston down to visit his mom in Florida. And without any training or prior preparation, he did just that, hobo camping and couch surfing with kind strangers all along the way.

I didn't have to make him promise. That may have been pompous of me. It may have been classist or snobbish or whatever the rest of you want to call it, but it did inspire him to do this trip.

He could've been lying when he made that promise to me, and he could've just used it for commuting, but if he had done that, I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't have been as good a set of friends as we are now.

I support people who care about the things that we create and believe in their power to give pleasure and joy to other people when the connections are right. We cannot always be successful, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try.
posted by bl1nk at 5:09 PM on December 22, 2017 [23 favorites]


If someone thought destroying a Stradivarius was going to be like an art statement, I'd knock them straight back into the 20th century
posted by thelonius at 5:10 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


You should never say "pun intended". If your pun was successful,

But what if I'm pretty ambitious with my puns, so much so that I have a 90% failure rate? And then I go on a little riff on some subject with a couple under a dozen wordplays, and they all flop massively. Can I report my joke success as pun intended or no pun intended?
posted by ambrosen at 5:11 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's melted cheese.

Melted. Cheese.



Yeah, but apparently the Culture is super into it right now.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:13 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think the thread has been worth it just for the image of someone playing Nickelback covers on a Stradivarius. Thank you, poffin boffin.
posted by clawsoon at 5:13 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


And that - the fact that you don't see deep cultural value in cheese - is why you're not a Parisian cheesemonger. :-)

Ah, but I do see it. Which is exactly why I know that the Stradivarius is not a good analogy at all. The cheese in question is only rare in the sense that it isn't aged to that depth very much any more, so it's hard to get. But there is absolutely nothing keeping anyone from aging more. Your Stradivarius is rare because there are literally less than a thousand in existence, and there will never be more.

It's not the last of its kind cheese. It's not cheese they'll never age to perfection again. It's not Apollo Moon Landing Cheese. It's just really good cheese that's kind of hard to get now. Totally apples and orange cheese.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 5:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


One goes to a restaurant to have someone cook for them. One goes to a high-end pastry/cheese/wine/meat shop for their expertise. If you don't want to eat the food the way the cook/chef has cooked it, stay home. If you insist on wasting good things for stupid reasons (like fine cheese in fondue), order it online and do whatever you want with it.

Flaunting one's power over a vendor by reassembling a sandwhich in front in said vendor is the hight of asshollery.
posted by Docrailgun at 5:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [18 favorites]


As a parent of a child on the spectrum with eating issues, if you refuse him some food out of snobbish opinion, you had better be willing to die for your conviction because I may make that an actual choice you have to make.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 5:27 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


One goes to a high-end pastry/cheese/wine/meat shop for their expertise.

One goes to a high-end pastry/cheese/wine/meat shop for their product. If one needs or desires their expertise, well then, there it is, too.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 5:28 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


i mean my god even hannibal lecter was willing to compromise on a menu to serve vegetarian food to a woman he loathed.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


One goes to a high-end pastry/cheese/wine/meat shop for their expertise.

This is an assumption.

People will go to those shops for goods they can't find elsewhere. Advice is available if they need it, but it's not necessarily wanted or required.
posted by zarq at 5:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


This has nothing to do with cheese. There are a lot of French people working in all kinds of jobs at all levels of social status who believe that "The Customer is not always right". For them, it's a way of affirming their right to continue to be a person while they're at work.

My experience as an American living in France is that at first it was hard to get used to the fact that the people doing their jobs might be in a bad mood that day, or might take some personal pride in what they do and want me to respect that, and they would feel no obligation to put on a fake smile and cater to me. Being a customer in France means you are asking someone to help you, and so you have to deal with them as a person, not a service robot. That starts from the minute you walk into the shop, when it's mandatory to make eye contact and say "bonjour". You can't just ignore people who are at work until you need something from them like you do in the US.

I slowly learned to appreciate living in a society where people don't give up their humanity so easily to their jobs. People here often describe how alienated and shat-on they feel while working in retail or service jobs, but then everyone in this thread complains about how offensive it is that someone might not want to sell to a customer that doesn't recognize who he is and what matters to him. This cheesemaker is a perfectly normal Frenchman who thinks that being respected in his work is more important to him than making more money or always having to be "nice". Somehow that idea has come to be socially unacceptable in the US.

If the customer is always right, then the worker is always submissive.
posted by fuzz at 5:30 PM on December 22, 2017 [129 favorites]


i mean my god even hannibal lecter was willing to compromise on a menu to serve vegetarian food to a woman he loathed.

'I wouldn't feed you with his liver.'

sorry. not sorry.
posted by zarq at 5:30 PM on December 22, 2017


Fromage`a Trois, now you are bringing well-measured reason to my analogy? Hmmph. I am beginning to think that you do not appreciate the fine art of making ridiculous arguments on the Internet. I shall refuse to offer you any more if you keep this up!

(Or I'll go put my daughter to bed. One of those things.)
posted by clawsoon at 5:31 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


But what if I'm pretty ambitious with my puns, so much so that I have a 90% failure rate?

So you're saying you hoped they'd all get a laugh, but no pun in ten did?
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:32 PM on December 22, 2017 [32 favorites]


Ok so we've reached the point of threats now...



...there was a reference or two to fascism and/or authoritarianism earlier ....

now we just need someone to get compared to Hitler and I think I'll smoke a cigarette and head off to sleep!

I love you guys.

posted by some loser at 5:37 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Look, Greg_Ace, if you're going to jump the gun on my carefully created setup that's 3 sentences long to get the syntax right so that both “no pun in ten did” and “no pun intended” both work, and without using any of the punchline words in the setup, then the only puns of mine you're allowed to hear from now on are at the "why did the baker have smelly hands?" level.
posted by ambrosen at 5:40 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


is it because he touched buns
posted by poffin boffin at 5:42 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


Flag on the play!
posted by thelonius at 5:42 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Because he chose the rolls of yeast resistance.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 5:46 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


Look, Greg_Ace, if you're going to jump the gun on my carefully created setup

I gave you 20 minutes; I didn't realize you were playing the long game. At least I tried not to be too punctual.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:49 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Remember the scene in Casino where De Niro's character rushes into the restaurant's kitchen to wave a blueberry muffin in the face of the French chef? De Nero's character had sliced the muffin in half and only found blueberries in one side. This caused him to fly into a rage, because he thought that looked low class. The chef just looked at him like he was nuts.
posted by Beholder at 5:50 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


the only puns of mine you're allowed to hear from now on are at the "why did the baker have smelly hands?"

Because he was making Punpernickel bread?
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:53 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Because he chose the rolls of yeast resistance.

Well, baking bread can be a pain.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


Perdu?
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 5:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I live in America where the government denies me the cheese I want.

Free dem Cheese!
posted by srboisvert at 6:03 PM on December 22, 2017


Sorry, the punchline to my throwaway pun above is "because he kneaded a poo". I put hover text in, but that doesn't work in mobile.

I did finish the carefully crafted not-to-be-used-in-fondue pun in one comment, though. Because I figured that the payoff for reading a 5 line comment would be that there would be some fun due at the end.
posted by ambrosen at 6:05 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


The conversation about well done steak and ketchup is a bit of a derail here I think.

This is less about classism and gatekeeping and to me, as others above have pointed out, this is more of a clash of how two people and/or cultures relate to and understand food. Many cultures have food rules where some things are better then others for a specific application or value food in ways which strike outsiders as elitism. Sometimes these values are based on irrational traditions or customs, other times based on experience, taste and respect.

To me the cheesemonger wasn't being an elitist as he was trying to help his customer make a better choice and taking the time to educate the consumer. The cheesemonger deeply respected the time and effort it took to make this aged Beaufort and understood that it was a style that is disappearing. The cheesemonger is coming from a position of good will and desire for his customer to truly enjoy the products his shop sells. To the customer the cheese was simply good (and rare and expensive) cheese and his attitude is "so put it in my mouth already and I'm agonna tweet about it". In the end they made a compromise which I think further illustrates how this is less about gate keeping and more about education and respect. So sheath those ketchup bottles...

As a disclaimer for my comment I will state that I am on record for being pro-fondue.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


Someone, please create the Stradivarius Made of Cheese sockpuppet. I just don't post here often enough; it'd be wasted on me.
posted by goofyfoot at 6:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Just waiting my turn, goofyfoot. Aged Beaufort beauty.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 6:11 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


as long as we're optimizing not sure why "tastiness" is the particular value that we should optimize

if you are trying to argue for the optimal use of resources, steak should not even exist
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:15 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I feared I would be banished to cheese hell (Holland) if I pushed it too far.

I think you'll find that it's actually called The Nethe…
You haven't asked me about Limburger, sir.

The article's actually pretty good for having presented both sides of the debate, and made some effort with the cheese jokes. But I can't tell if the author intentionally misnamed The Netherlands or deliberately chose the province where improvements in cheese richness and flavour development are, err, made backwards over the past 7 or so centuries.
posted by ambrosen at 6:16 PM on December 22, 2017


Cheddarvarius
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:17 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


I don't like ketchup on steak but this is making me want to eat that just as a matter of principle, now.

Then you were never really an ally.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


The one time that I encountered an attitude like this in a North American store (and all the shopping I've done in my life has been in North American stores) was in a store that sold mass-produced religious tchotchkes - holy water, sacred soap, that sort of thing. (It was joking about the soap with my girlfriend of the time which earned us our rebuke from the shopkeeper.)

I wonder if a better ridiculous analogy would be telling a Bible seller that you were going to use the Bible she sold you for a Satanic ritual. (A Satanic ritual involving fondue and Nickelback, of course.) Perhaps, after the violence of the Wars of Religion and the Revolution, the French have decided that cheese is a safer repository for that level of passion.
posted by clawsoon at 6:20 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


what is sacred soap

is it made from real christians
posted by poffin boffin at 6:24 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


This is the Lard, My God.
posted by Fromage`a Trois at 6:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


s/passion/rigid fundamentalism/
posted by clawsoon at 6:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't get ketchup on steak because I'd honestly rather just eat the ketchup. Though it's hard to get a lot of calories from ketchup alone, however tasty it may be, so I guess I might mix in some steak if that's the only option.

Every decade or so I'll try a supposedly good steak just on the off chance I'll finally figure out whatever it is people like about it. No luck so far.

Anyway, so I'm on "team tastes differ", though if someone's going to a lot of effort to show me the Correct way to eat something than I'm all for giving it an honest try, at least once.
posted by floppyroofing at 6:26 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't get ketchup on steak because I'd honestly rather just eat the ketchup.

DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER!! You don't like steak, you like ketchup!!

Just like I don't like fries, I like mayonnaise. They're just an excuse to eat mayonnaise for me.
posted by some loser at 6:33 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


As a parent of a child on the spectrum with eating issues, if you refuse him some food out of snobbish opinion, you had better be willing to die for your conviction because I may make that an actual choice you have to make.

The thing is, though--I don't like *assuming* that people are going to be dicks about that kind of thing. Look at Gordon Ramsey. The man can bring the wrath of god when he feels it's warranted. But he's actually great with kids. I'm not sure you'd take your kid on the spectrum with eating issues to a super expensive restaurant generally, but if you did for some reason and you spoke to the waiter and explained that your kid has issues with food but that this is a really special occasion--I think even a lot of the places that can be snobs about food are in fact aware of the difference between being snobs and being complete raging assholes. Not that everybody will be, in which case I think the murder thoughts are entirely appropriate, I'm just saying, I think that's pretty far afield of the sort of behavior described in the story.
posted by Sequence at 6:35 PM on December 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


Ohhhhhhh, the cat's eaten it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Unless the monger refuses to sell to anyone other than personal friends, he never actually knows what happens to that cheese once it leaves the shop.

Well yeah, unless the customer literally voluntarily tells them what they're planning to do with it. Dude could've just asked for the fancy cheese and bought it and there'd never have been a problem. Once he volunteered that he was going to abuse it, though, it's fine for the seller to react to that.
posted by Dysk at 7:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


200+ comments and none from our resident cheesemongers?
posted by elsietheeel at 7:22 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


And like, I say this as someone who despises almost all cheese in raw form, and loves melted cheese and cheese fondue. The super fancy cheeses aren't for me. That's fine. I'll take the cheese that makes a perfectly good fondue rather than the rare expensive stuff I won't get any additional enjoyment from. Respect for my fellow humans who bafflingly eat cheese raw.
posted by Dysk at 7:22 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I can almost imagine an independent bookseller doing the same thing, if they weren't such a demoralized bunch right now. "I'm sorry. If you're just going to put it on your shelf to impress your frenemies, I'm not going to sell it to you. It is a rich, beautiful book. You must promise me to read it."
posted by clawsoon at 7:27 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Has anyone ever dipped their cheese into ketchup? I'm just thinking outside of the box now.
posted by Fizz at 7:31 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


I once filled a Stradivarius with melted Beaufort and dipped Cheez-Its in there; does that count?
posted by clawsoon at 7:35 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


One of the reasons the cheesemonger didn't want to sell him aged Beaufort for a fondue is because aged cheese don't melt as well as young cheese. Fondue is delicate, because you have to mix three different cheese and the wine and get a result that's melted but not liquid or elastic. No need to compound the difficulty with cheese that won't melt right and won't mix well.
posted by snakeling at 7:40 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


This is the MetaFilter comment where I'm going to compare rare cheese to drug paraphernalia:

If you walk into a head shop and buy a pipe, the seller isn't going to quiz you on what you're going to do with it. If you're the kind of customer who likes to tell everyone they meet their life story however, and you volunteer that you've got some excellent illegal drugs that you're planning on smoking through that pipe you're buying, the seller not only can refuse to sell to you, legally they must do so (in the UK at least, YMMV, IANAL, IANYL, seek appropriate legal advice for your jurisdiction). You could just keep your fool mouth shut, and make the transaction. But if you're going to volunteer information about how you plan to use it, legally, the seller has to take that into consideration.

Same deal with alcohol or tobacco. I can go and buy fags or a bottle of wine and I should not be subject to a quiz on what I intend to do with them. If I idly mention to the sales clerk that a schoolkid outside gave me money to buy it for them though, that has to be taken into consideration. The sale must legally be refused.

Now, the situation here isn't completely the same - I'm not advocating a legal responsibility for the cheesemonger here - but I'm good with information the customer volunteers being taken into consideration even if I'm not okay with the seller setting a quiz to gatekeep their product. But if I volunteer that I'm going to use the cheese for something where a less rare and expensive product would be just as good, I'd want to be refused.

(And as someone who had worked retail in their life, I'd also love anything that discourages customers from telling me all about their plans when shopping. Ask for the thing you want to buy, pay for it, and leave. I'm not here to be your escort for the next five minutes, find someone else to bore with your conversation.)
posted by Dysk at 7:41 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


SHUT THAT BLOODY BOUZOUKI OFF!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:43 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


Haha it's funny cause we're all going to be eating cricket paste in 40 years.
posted by odinsdream at 7:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [13 favorites]


Loquacious, that's just grape, cheesus I feel for you.

I like the French, they at least convince me they are passionate about what they are about. Maybe. I was driving north of Chantilly in the November dark afternoon, with flowers still in bloom, and autumn leaves scuttling across the road. I went into a country inn that ends at the street on the front edge. I was alone, and some local guys were sitting at a table in front of a fire, drinking cognac. I went to get a bite to eat, because I was driving to Delft that evening. In my minimal French the lady at the bar explained to me they were closed. I said that was OK, "Oui, merci, Madame." She cocked her head and said in English better than my French, "Sandwich?" I said, "Oui merci madame, coffee?" She asked, "Jambon, fromage?" I smiled and nodded affirmatively. So I sat at the bar, and had coffee while I waited because there was a pot of coffee, I had spotted. Then one by one, the guys from that table came and peeked around the back of the bar, to see what I looked like. The first guy, gave me an up and down look, and walked back to his friends, saying, "Ohh la la!"

I like the French, the sandwich on baguette was delicious, and the coffee good, and I paid a reasonable and small amount and tipped, and drove on my way.
posted by Oyéah at 7:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Thinking outside of the wine box now.
posted by Oyéah at 7:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


And as someone who had worked retail in their life, I'd also love anything that discourages customers from telling me all about their plans when shopping

I'm completely on board with that - I don't care to share anything beyond a pleasant hello, polite inquiries, and thanks in a sales context. But man, damn near every cashier in every grocery store I've ever been in (I'm talking about in the US) seems to love to carry on a conversation, often to the point of dawdling over the bagging and payment process like I've got nothing else I'd rather be doing. I guess they're supposed to try to "engage the customer" and make it a "positive shopping experience" or some such managerial BS; but really, I'd rather get my transaction done and be on my way.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:58 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Most of the thread seems to me to be missing just how far the French are willing to go to shame people who are Doing It Wrong.

This is the country that passed a law legislating what clothing women can wear, because Muslim women wearing head scarves are Doing It Wrong.

This is the country where a butch friend was confronted every time she used a public women's restroom, because masculine-presenting women are Doing It Wrong.

This is the country where I tried to eat at a restaurant (the only restaurant open in the town at that hour) that served nothing that was vegetarian. When I asked if they could make anything vegetarian that I could eat, I was told no, because being vegetarian is Doing It Wrong.
posted by medusa at 8:01 PM on December 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


Has anyone ever dipped their cheese into ketchup? I'm just thinking outside of the box now.

Add a crispy crust and a few chunks of pineapple, and then you've really got something!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Are people creating cheese-flavoured sockpuppets just for this thread? I was wondering this very thing.
posted by Oyéah at 8:21 PM on December 22, 2017


Has anyone ever dipped their cheese into ketchup?

I used to put peanut butter on cheddar when I was a kid. Everyone now seems to think that was strange.
posted by hwyengr at 8:21 PM on December 22, 2017


Ehh, my sister used to love peanut butter and sweet pickle sandwiches. I never got it. Peanut butter on cheddar seems less weird to me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:24 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


There must be a way to tie this together with the weird sheep from the other thread.
posted by clawsoon at 8:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


tie this together with the weird sheep

BaaDSM
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:35 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Hot Dog on a Stick has two cheese options. Yummy with ketchup.
posted by luckynerd at 8:36 PM on December 22, 2017


Sheep dip bears no relationship to fondue. Though...awww fetagettabout it!
posted by Oyéah at 8:36 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure you'd take your kid on the spectrum with eating issues to a super expensive restaurant generally, but if you did for some reason and you spoke to the waiter and explained that your kid has issues with food but that this is a really special occasion

Or the server could just take the order and the kitchen could prepare it, rather than require the customer to disclose a disability in an attempt to get the restaurant to serve food. You know, what they're in theory in business to do?

As an autistic adult, I'm glad that I have enough experience, social capital, and self possession at this point to be able to stand firm when it comes to the foods I have sensory issues with. I'm able to smile while saying politely yet firmly "No, that won't work. What else is possible?" and to send things back when they're not the way I ordered them. (If my "eggs over hard" arrive with gooey whites, I'm sending them back and not feeling bad about it.) Many autistic kids are not yet able to speak up for themselves this way, but their sensory issues are just as valid as mine.
posted by Lexica at 8:50 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


Has anyone ever dipped their cheese into ketchup? I'm just thinking outside of the box now.

this is all i will eat for the rest of my life and when anyone inquires i shall tell them i got the recipe from metafilter
posted by poffin boffin at 9:12 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


i don't even like ketchup
posted by poffin boffin at 9:12 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


Hmm, I'm not sure about some of the analogies being thrown around here, or the assumptions involved. The classicism thing is an understandable sore point, but the analogies don't really hold for it when the cheesemonger is trying to talk the customer into something cheaper to avoid waste of resources. With a steak analogy it would be more like walking into a store that sells cuts of meat and asking for Waygu aged steaks and mentioning that you intend to eat it smothered in ketchup or whatever sauce, at which point the vendor tells you instead to buy cheaper steak since you'd be losing the purpose of the Waygu by your preference since the flavor would be lost to the ketchup. I don't see that as a class issue so much as a optimization of money, purpose, and likely taste.

The disagreements about service and customers is trickier for me since there is something more involved, especially coming from the US. Here the historical issue is that refusal of goods and services has been tied to discrimination in forms that aren't as pure as disagreements over best use. That legacy, I think, strongly informs attitudes about refusal even when they aren't based on more dire discriminatory practice.

At the same time, I also do side with those that suggest the seller's service is part of the sales process, and that they have some right to decide how they put their services to use absent discrimination. They own the thing being offered for sale and their own values and expertise as to how they want to put forth their services. If they aren't monopolizing the market, the choices of customers aren't being artificially constrained by their interests if there are other providers with the same things for sale. As a worker, I do have some say in how my skills are put to use, or should depending on circumstance and employer, and the attitude that I shouldn't is itself potentially classicist. The tension between the two sets of actions, denial by discrimination and demand due to privilege, to me highlights the unstable nature of capitalism where we all lose some level of humanity in the end.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


This cheesemaker is a perfectly normal Frenchman who thinks that being respected in his work is more important to him than making more money or always having to be "nice".

Gonna blow your mind by telling you that you can disagree with someone and disregard his advice without disrespecting him.

He didn't spit in the cheesemonger's face, he didn't call him an idiot, he didn't sit on a wheel of parmesan and demand that fifty different tasting portions be brought to him. He disagreed with him, politely, about the exact correct way to consume a cheese. That is not disrespectful in the least.

I actually think the chef example is different because, at a restaurant beyond a certain level of ambition, the chef is selling his skill at constructing and preparing a particular recipe. If you're not into that particular recipe, you're certainly free to order something else, or not to eat at that restaurant, but what he's offering is that dish, with those ingredients. In the end, the cheesemonger is exchanging a good for currency.
posted by praemunire at 9:29 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Outside of the war between those who think the anti-ketchupers are ludicrous snobs, and those who think the ketchupers are smarmy relativists, may I please bring the following to the, er, table:

Last year I had a very confused conversation with cafe staff in Bologna where after ten minutes I finally figured I wasn't screwing up my (terrible, basic) Italian, but that they were simply refusing to serve me the espressos I was ordering at the same time as our ice cream - anyone who would eat ice cream and drink espresso at once was a monster, and they would bring it to us after we were done with the ice cream.

This year, visiting a supplier in Milan, a client who otherwise went out of their way to stupendous extents to curry our favour, visibly winced when my manager asked for coffee along with our sandwich lunch, refused to provide it even when she pushed for this several times, not always being the quickest to pick up on this sort of thing, and eventually got his way. He honestly looked like she'd slapped his firstborn child.

So in my experience the Italians make the French look like amateurs here.

Also they are wrong, bitter espresso with sweet ice cream is great and in this case the smarmy relativists are correct
posted by ominous_paws at 9:46 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Also to the person who thought a food thread blowing up to hundreds of comments meant a lot of joyfulness, how is your first day on the Internet going
posted by ominous_paws at 9:48 PM on December 22, 2017 [18 favorites]


Kirkham’s Lancashire: if you try to melt it you should be shot.

There. I said it.
posted by aramaic at 9:48 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Where did that weird sheep come from with the wheel of cheese tied to his back?
posted by Oyéah at 10:01 PM on December 22, 2017


No mention of the greatest cheese-related AskMe of all time?

I'm going to withhold my opinions on steak, ketchup etc in the interests of preserving friendships.
posted by AFABulous at 10:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Of course cheese Hitler exists. No, it's not very good, but what do you want at this hour?

(also, the cat I mentioned earlier just... well... look, I'm really upset about this. The cat was in my lap, and I... I was yawning and somehow her tail ended up in my mouth and I had my eyes closed and *gaaack* *cough*)
posted by loquacious at 10:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Has anyone ever dipped their cheese into ketchup? I'm just thinking outside of the box now.

I put ketchup on my mac and cheese, but it has to be in small, controlled amounts. You can't just stir in a whole bunch like it's marina sauce or something, you have to have the ketchup just kind of next to the mac and cheese, and it should be doled out in small amounts so it is cold in contrast to hot bites of macaroni and cheese.

I also like ketchup on a cheeseburger. I'll also have it on a tuna salad sandwich, but, again, not mixed in the salad, just spread on the bread like a condiment.

I don't, say, freak out if it's not around, though. I don't think I have any right now unless there's some packets hiding around somewhere. And I've never asked for ketchup at a restaurant unless french fries were on the menu.

And I will totally put ketchup on a steak if we're talking like Denny's or Wafflehouse T-bone and runny eggs and hash browns for breakfast kind of steak. In this case ketchup will be going everywhere, because if I'm eating that kind of breakfast or breakfast at all it almost always means it's actually very, very late dinner and I need to atone for my sins.
posted by loquacious at 10:39 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


What if the cheesemonger here isn’t actually an expert, and he’s actually just a bored temp worker who wants to play around with the customers and enjoy his cheese power on the last day of his assignment?
posted by oceanjesse at 11:26 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Now I'm going to make homemade ketchup. Done it before; it's really easy and good.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:45 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


In other words: The cheesemonger is requiring cultural capital as part of the sale price. He won't allow that part of the price to be replaced with financial capital.

Which is foreign to my middle-class Anglosphere upbringing, especially since it's happening in a store.
posted by clawsoon at 3:02 PM on December 22 [4 favorites +] [!]


I think you are mixing up Anglosphere and America there.
posted by fshgrl at 11:59 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


like it's marina sauce or something

That description sounds fishy to me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:06 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


If you don't want to eat the food the way the cook/chef has cooked it, stay home.

I don't go to restaurants for awesome food. I go to restaurants so I can sit down, be served food and drinks, and not have to figure out the ingredients, be involved in cooking it, or wash the dishes after. I may go with friends who care about awesome food; I'm going for the service, which includes being able to eat whatever's on the menu without being pestered about it.

I don't go out of my way to find restaurants where my eating style is going to annoy the chef, but I also don't go to any effort to avoid that. If there's no sign on the door that says, "you will be refused service or actively insulted if you don't accept the meals the way the chef intends them to be appreciated," I expect to be allowed to eat without harassment for my choices.

I do understand that there can be a measure of pride in creation that means, "I'm not going to sell it to you for THAT!" But the refusal to sell doesn't need to be accompanied by insults or attempting to shame the person who wants to use it in a way the creator doesn't like.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:22 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


I love the cheese seller! The author could have had the solitary and comfortless experience of standing under fluorescent lights in a chilly supermarket aisle left entirely to their own lonely cheese devices, but instead received expert advice warmly rendered, a story to delight or infuriate thousands of readers and generate hundreds of impassioned arguments, a story to "dine out on" for years to come, plus learned more about the cheese he wanted to buy, cheese in general, and this seller in particular, and now knows where to go to get expert (and heartfelt!) advice on what cheeses to serve with which wines or fruits or salads or desserts, how to properly integrate a cheese course in a meal for friends, how to select, serve and savor any given cheese ... and might have made a friend. Priceless! ♥ Monsieur.
posted by taz at 12:49 AM on December 23, 2017 [15 favorites]


This all reminds me of what we have to endure here in Chicago, the whole "Wait! You are castigating me for having the temerity, the utter gall, to put ketchup on finely ground cow and/or pig nostril and anus encased in sheep intestine wall?".
posted by Chitownfats at 1:11 AM on December 23, 2017 [10 favorites]


Wait, no mention of what cheese the people of New York think is better than anywhere else? Even in snark?
Oh Metafilter, you’re tired and need a holiday
posted by matrixgeek at 2:16 AM on December 23, 2017


But the refusal to sell doesn't need to be accompanied by insults or attempting to shame the person who wants to use it in a way the creator doesn't like.

Quoted for truth. It doesn't sound like the cheesemonger in the story was doing any of that though.
posted by Dysk at 2:29 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm going to withhold my opinions on steak, ketchup etc in the interests of preserving friendships.

I'm going to present my opinions in the interests of bringing people together.

Once, I liked ketchup on burgers, fries, steak, scrambled eggs, hot dogs. All sorts of things.

Now, I like ketchup on burgers and fries. Some of my tastes have changed over the years, for no identifiable reason, and others have not.

tl;dr: Brains are weird things.
posted by mikelieman at 2:37 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also to the person who thought a food thread blowing up to hundreds of comments meant a lot of joyfulness, how is your first day on the Internet going

idk, the annual apple threads are a lot of fun, probably because no one has yet been able to smugly assign arbitrary class markers to apple varieties.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:44 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also to the person who thought a food thread blowing up to hundreds of comments meant a lot of joyfulness, how is your first day on the Internet going

I am sorry and not sorry that I created this thread. You're welcome.
posted by Fizz at 2:56 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Received with thanks. If nothing else we've learned how many Americans can be provoked into snippy defensiveness at the mere idea of somebody not subserviently dancing to the exact tune demanded as soon as somebody waves a handful of singles at them.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:57 AM on December 23, 2017 [12 favorites]


I am sorry and not sorry that I created this thread. You're welcome.

It was a Christmas miracle and you should regret nothing
posted by thelonius at 4:22 AM on December 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


It was a Christmas miracle and you should regret nothing

INDEED! It's been a hell of a year and this was a much needed respite.
posted by mikelieman at 4:32 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


fshgrl: I think you are mixing up Anglosphere and America there.

I've only been to America briefly, but I've been in the Anglosphere my whole life. I just figured that we were all culturally descended from the same nation of shopkeepers.

(The other parts of my cultural heritage were purposefully and successfully wiped out by the British.)
posted by clawsoon at 4:48 AM on December 23, 2017


> "If nothing else we've learned how many Americans can be provoked into snippy defensiveness at the mere idea of somebody not subserviently dancing to the exact tune demanded as soon as somebody waves a handful of singles at them."

Yes, this is precisely what we mean when we object to people on the internet telling us that we eat like Poor People and therefore do not deserve to eat at all, or at the very least should do so in private where no one can see while sobbing in shame at our failings.
posted by kyrademon at 4:49 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm not quite sure who brought poor people into it, especially given that the most famous ketchuper famously lives in a golden palace. Maybe I've read the thread carelessly?
posted by ominous_paws at 4:54 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


the most famous ketchuper famously lives in a golden palace

fuck Ronald McDonald ; one percenter
posted by thelonius at 5:25 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Aye, it might be worth reiterating that this is about a guy trying to pay over twenty-five bucks a pound for cheese.
posted by clawsoon at 5:26 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


it's not about the "culturally incorrect" pairing of any old steak and ketchup,

There is an element of rejection of the pervasiveness of American overt influence on the world and culture.

Grrr, why did I go to sleep last night and miss being in the thrall of this thread. lol.
posted by sammyo at 5:43 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


xkcd, updated: "Are you coming to bed?" "No. Someone is wrong about cheese on the Internet!"
posted by clawsoon at 6:12 AM on December 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


Aye, it might be worth reiterating that this is about a guy trying to pay over twenty-five bucks a pound for cheese.

Indeed. He's trying to extravagantly waste scarce, high-quality, labour-intensive state-subsidised cheese that the cheese seller's regular customers would probably appreciate much more than him (since they wouldn't try to use it for fondue or something else that another cheese would be better for). He's not being criticised for acting like a Poor Person, he's being criticised for acting like a foolish rich person who understands the value of money and nothing else.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:15 AM on December 23, 2017 [14 favorites]


no one has yet been able to smugly assign arbitrary class markers to apple varieties
No, but we're pretty good at smugly ignoring class markers.

Imagine (hypothetically, asking for a friend, let's say...) for a moment that you grew up in a family where money was a bit tight, so your parents always got the cheapest fruit varieties in the store, for so long and at such a formative age that they got good to you even when you all became able to afford "better".

Or choose your own backstory, but simply suppose that your favored apple variety is simply one for which "Black households have higher purchase probability" and "Hispanic households have higher purchase probabilities" compared to white households, and for which the measured correlation between income and purchase quantity was more negative than any other.

Would it be possible to read about that fruit on Metafilter without being reminded of that? I think not. The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious might have been the biggest pile-on, but I defy you to find another Metafilter apple thread free of disdain for them.
posted by roystgnr at 6:35 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


> "He's not being criticised for acting like a Poor Person, he's being criticised for acting like a foolish rich person who understands the value of money and nothing else."

All that is true, but literally the first comment in this thread was about the steak / ketchup issue, and 95% of the pushback here has been against that. Criticism of the cheesemonger has been relatively mild, on the order of, "He had a point about the cheese, but it sounds like he was kind of a dick about it." No one has, in particular, been getting the vapors about that, so if that's what is being referred to when Americans getting hissy fits about service workers is discussed, it's a little baffling.

> "I'm not quite sure who brought poor people into it, especially given that the most famous ketchuper famously lives in a golden palace."

If you think he gets mocked for that because he is perceived as flaunting his high-class expensive tastes, you are seriously misreading the social cues.
posted by kyrademon at 6:36 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Shouldn't we stop people from wasting precious resources on stupid uses!?!", we argue, while pouring man-hour after man-hour into a multi-hundred-comment multi-day internet flamewar about the proper place for fondue and ketchup.
posted by roystgnr at 6:42 AM on December 23, 2017 [11 favorites]


Yes, this is precisely what we mean when we object to people on the internet telling us that we eat like Poor People

Fondue is a poor person food?

I know a bunch of you Americans have spent the thread trying to turn it into a discussion of steak and ketchup, but this thread was actually about French food and culture, not American food and class markers. Steak and ketchup is not analogous - that's an issue of mixing fancy and cheap in a way that may indeed represent some embedded classism. Aged Beaufort and fondue is about mixing fancy and super fancy in a way that does a disservice to both, and is absolutely not about someone getting their lower class markers in someone else's upper class food. It's about someone misunderstanding French food, having more money than sense.

Tldr: the steak and ketchup derail is an irrelevant distraction, brought up to try and force American class optics on something that doesn't lend itself to that kind of analysis.
posted by Dysk at 6:55 AM on December 23, 2017 [26 favorites]


Wait, no mention of what cheese the people of New York think is better than anywhere else? Even in snark?

Mozzarella.
posted by zarq at 7:02 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


As a lover of aged Beaufort, yeah, the stuff is getting very, very hard to find. You used to be able to get 24-month Beaufort in a few supermarkets; now you're lucky if you can find 6-month Beaufort. And the 6-month cheese costs as much as the 24-month used to. I literally just bought a 270g slab of 6-month Beaufort for just over 7 euros – it's 27 euros per kilo (about 13 euros per pound). It's a hard cheese, so it's dense.

I prefer 36-month Beaufort – indeed if you try a few ages together, you can learn a lot about how hard cheeses age. Young Beaufort (6-month) is soft, and distinctly tangy and sweet. 12-month Beaufort has some crisp crystallization to it and an accompanying sharp bite. 18-month Beaufort has a bit fewer crystals and the bite is just starting to transform. You can taste it! Then at 24 months you've got the move into a certain depth of rich tang. At 36 months, when you eat Beaufort made by people who know what they're doing, it's gone back to softness, and the now-incredibly-rich tang is balanced out by a smooth, cloudy sweetness that is the taste equivalent of just enough salt to bring out more flavor – except it's sweetness doing that with the tang.

I would never even DREAM of using 36-month Beaufort in fondue. Fondue may be expensive, but using 36-month Beaufort would be an insult to the cheesemaker, and wouldn't even be that good in fondue, because the heat would ruin the balance of deeply rich tang with ethereal sweetness. Class out on that if you want, on preview yes, this thread is yet another example of "let's compare apples with oranges because it's France lol."
posted by fraula at 7:02 AM on December 23, 2017 [28 favorites]


"Sorry, but that 30 year old small batch single malt won't go well with coke. It's a total waste, this blend would be more suitable and will save you quite a lot of money."
"Fuck you buddy, I bet you hate people who put ketchup on steak too."
"Um..."
posted by knapah at 7:12 AM on December 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


that 30 year old small batch single malt won't go well with coke

I would have to actually contract out a small team to flip tables for me because I would get tired before I ran out of tables to flip.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:26 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


As a lover of aged Beaufort, yeah, the stuff is getting very, very hard to find.

Why aren't prices going up enough to continue to support its production? Are people just not that into it or what?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:42 AM on December 23, 2017


Different industry, I sell no cheese.

But I am often obliged to persuade a client away from their own worst ideas. This is easiest in Québec and France, and met with the most resistance from my colleagues (“You can’t tell the client they’re wrong — that’s insane!”) in America or elsewhere in Anglo/allophonic Canada, where it is felt that the client’s amateur estimation of their own sophistication of taste is an inviolable delusion we all consent to encourage.

I can understand this point of view, but it is usually my preference to make the correct choices for the end product instead. Otherwise why was I hired?
posted by Construction Concern at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Why aren't prices going up enough to continue to support its production?

Market failure. The theories are very nicely just-so but in reality capitalism isn't actually perfect.
posted by Dysk at 7:52 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think snobs get a unfairly bad rap. Money snobs are assholes, but if you're snobby about something experiential, that's fair.

If you're really passionate and interested enough in something that you've spent time learning about it and exploring the topic, yes, I do think your opinions and perspectives are more valuable than those of someone who hasn't. And most of the time when you spend a lot of time learning about something, you develop some pretty strong opinions.

So I really like music. I like going to shows and listening to music, but I really only have the most general notion of what's difficult and whether someone is particularly talented at playing an instrument or something. My husband, however, is a NERD of that stuff. He has strong opinions on those things and can talk really boringly about the technical aspects of music for as long as you'll let him. I defer to his opinions because I don't know that stuff. And if he had tickets to see the greatest whatever player of all time playing a sold out show nearby and I had the choice of going with him on a lark, or of him taking his nerd music friend, I would tell him to take his friend because it's a scarce resource that would be wasted on me. I can go to other cheaper shows that aren't in demand and I wouldn't know the difference.

It doesn't make me a pathetic low class asshole that that's not my thing, just like it doesn't make anyone a pathetic low class asshole if fancy cheese or steak or whatever isn't their thing.

Also, I am pretty confident I could tell the difference between original flavor Listerine and small batch single malt scotch, but that's about it, so I would be a dick if I hogged a spot in line for this and deprived someone who was able to appreciate it. If I did decide I wanted to become a scotch snob, I would listen to people who knew about it instead of arguing with them. Because they know more about it than I do, so their opinions on it are more valuable than mine.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:53 AM on December 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


I really want to try aged Beaufort now, but I live in the land of kaas where you have to hunt for a tiny wedge of cheddar in the "specialty" cheese section and today I tried to find gruyère and I had to ask and two employees couldn't identify gruyère as a thing that exists in the world so they had to consult with a senior employee, who apologized and said the only one they had was the pre-shredded kind. I wouldn't have minded the French cheesemonger being around, to be honest, when I was sitting there googling "substitute gruyere" on my phone.

But what I came to post was almost completely unrelated to TFP but maybe some who came to this thread in search of cheese joy would enjoy: my contribution to the holiday festivities will be an attempt at making what is alleged to be The Perfect Cheese Ball. I mean, when I think of cheese balls, this is what I get. (There's my class marker.) But I don't think they're really a thing here, other than literal, enormous balls of Edam or whatever, so we're DIY'ing it. I'm giving it 50:50 odds on either being delicious or a disaster. I will report my findings back later.

And Chitownfats, put what you like on your pig anus, but if you're serving Best Kosher dogs like Bog intended I expect you to drag it through the garden and then disdain the ketchup because there are literal actual tomatoes and celery salt and vinegary sport peppers on the dog already, what does additional vinegary salty tomato sauce bring to the party anyways? Dang, I could go for a hot dog now.
posted by sldownard at 8:22 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


You sell cheese. I buy cheese. You give me cheese I want. I pay. If I wanted your opinion I would ask for it.
posted by Splunge at 9:10 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you really want to have fun, try going around Bretagne asking for galette sucré.
posted by snofoam at 9:11 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Would I simply feel that the steak was so inherently delicious and well-prepared that I wouldn't want anything on it? Or what? Please advise. Just in case I ever get to have a steak that doesn't come from a cheap restaurant.

You should feel that way with well prepared steak of any quality, if it can be legitimately described as steak. There's a Brazilian restaurant here that sells a steak dinner for $12.99. Despite being one of the worst cuts, it is properly seasoned and properly cooked so it's still delicious and tender.

It's totally fine if you want to put ketchup or anything else on your steak. I may gag and the cook/chef may be offended that you think their output so offensive that you put A1 on it to cover up the flavor, but at the same time I wouldn't think twice about a restaurant choosing not to have those things and thus being unable to accommodate your request.

Steak sauce was made to accommodate half-rancid meat back in the days before refrigeration was a thing and the icebox getting overly warm wasn't a rare occurrence, so I can see why some might take offense.
posted by wierdo at 9:18 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


You sell cheese. I buy cheese. You give me cheese I want. I pay. If I wanted your opinion I would ask for it.

It seems a bit late to come in with a parody comment about a stereotypical ignorant American consumer. But well played!
posted by Nelson at 9:22 AM on December 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


If I wanted your opinion I would ask for it.

The customer in the original story implicitly did just that though, in telling his cheesemonger what he was after cheese for. If he'd just asked for cheese with no further comment, he'd have walked out of the store with expensive rates cheese, and made a suboptimal fondue for which he'd paid over the odds. If you don't care what the the seller thinks of has to offer by way of expertise, just ask for cheese, don't start a conversation about your plans for it.
posted by Dysk at 9:24 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think the crux here is that in order to use the cheese in a fondue, the author needs to heat it and markedly transform its nature. In that sense, the analogies of burning hundred dollar bills are really a lot closer to the truth than something like ketchup on steak; its less about subjective tastes, but more about an objective truth that heating the cheese would make a lot of the aromatics the cheesemaker spent months cultivating to dissapate into thin air.
posted by destrius at 9:39 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


sldownard, did you notice that the (actually quite self-deprecating, if not actually discouraged from using Beaufort in a fondue) author joked about being exiled to Holland (sic) for crimes against cheese, for exactly that reason?

The polarisation on here is weird, because the author signs off with
So respect to the Paris cheese monger. A man who puts fromage above fric [cash]. But this Beaufort better be bloody good, or it's going in the pot.
and it's kind of regrettable that everyone who's responding to this article isn't acknowledging that the author seems to have been persuaded. Or at least that there's a fair amount of subtext where he's clear that one of the reasons he's an American living in France is because he likes shops like this. Even if he doesn't know that it actually is almost as important not to use ingredients that are too sophisticate for their job as it is to use ones that are good enough.

Where I live there's a pretty strong foodie culture (including some pretty good cheesemongers, but I don't eat dairy), so I do definitely end up talking a bit about what I'm going to do with my food (I often have to anyway, being cœliac). I can certainly imagine some of the people I buy food off being pretty put out if I wasn't going to use it correctly. Where I buy my beer, the earthy Belfast-born proprietor would definitely be a bit unhappy if I said I was going to use an £8 bottle of beer in a stew. So I see that, totally.
posted by ambrosen at 9:43 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Ooh boy, thread still going strong! I see why people are getting all het up about the classist snobbery of judging personal tastes, but that isn't what was going on in the cheese story at all! I'm pro cheesemonger. It also sounds like he was not at all an asshole about it (on the contrary, he took an hour to explain his reasoning), and it also seems like the guy trying to buy the cheese wasn't really upset by it.

Also people keep missing the fondue-appropriateness angle! Cheeseman wasn't just trying to prevent the wasting of a precious cheese via using it in a way that would ruin/cover up its qualities, he was also trying to help the dude make a successful fondue! The aged cheese wouldn't have melted right. Not only would it have been a waste of money for the buyer and waste of the rare product (depriving someone else of enjoying it) for the craftsman, it would have ruined the dude's fondue.
posted by aka burlap at 9:49 AM on December 23, 2017 [13 favorites]


Educating the client is part of caring about your job. It's no different than a designer trying to dissuade somebody from their bright idea about jamming a giant button right into the middle of a form, or a systems administrator suggesting that having data secured behind something other than the word "password" might be a good idea.

All I know is that it's too early in the morning for me to want a cheese plate. I haven't even had my tea yet.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:05 AM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but apparently the Culture is super into it right now.

This Cheese Tastes Like Gravitas

or maybe

You Don't Have Enough Gravitas For This Cheese
posted by Thalience at 10:11 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


I’m on team cheesemonger...because I’m ALSO on team Food Dexter. I know my dark passenger compels me to consume certain goods in ways that would be totally repellent and unacceptable to the people who sold them at me. When I’m in a store I will lie and present myself as a normal upstanding consumer who always only consumes goods The Right Way.

The conversation usually goes like this:

Seller: Oh, so you want to buy special good! Are you planning to use it for socially acceptable purpose?

Me: *fake smiling* yes that is what I am doing *widen smile, showing teeth as sign of friendliness*

Seller: very good! That will be some amount of money now

Me: *hands over money, takes purchases and leaves*

FIN
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:12 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


I SWEAR THAT I INTEND TO USE THIS CHEESE FOR NORMAL HUMAN PURPOSES. I PLAN TO PUT IT INTO MY MOUTH HOLE, AS IS THE CUSTOM OF THIS PLACE.
posted by kyrademon at 10:44 AM on December 23, 2017 [14 favorites]


If I did decide I wanted to become a scotch snob , but why not a Listerine snob?
posted by Oyéah at 10:47 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think the cultures that ferment cheese, are way into cheeses of all kinds. I think that was a very subtle pun, maybe.
posted by Oyéah at 10:54 AM on December 23, 2017


If you don't want to eat the food the way the cook/chef has cooked it, stay home.



I'm going for the service, which includes being able to eat whatever's on the menu without being pestered about it.

If there's no sign on the door that says, "you will be refused service or actively insulted if you don't accept the meals the way the chef intends them to be appreciated," I expect to be allowed to eat without harassment for my choices.


I’m a little confused. If you’re just ordering what's already on the menu, how is that not accepting the meals the way the chef intends them?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:20 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


> Also to the person who thought a food thread blowing up to hundreds of comments meant a lot of joyfulness, how is your first day on the Internet going

Terribly.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 11:57 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


[raises hand] I've yadda-yadda'ed cheese...
posted by rhizome at 12:06 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


As a European-turned-American, can I just say this is so hilarious. Stereotypically European Opinionated customer service person. Stereotypically American American. Flameouts about steak & ketchup. I love you guys.
posted by The Toad at 12:48 PM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


A friend of my dad's once got thrown out of a French restaurant because he asked for grated cheese for his fish dish. He was on a weird grated cheese trip at the time.
posted by Zarkonnen at 12:52 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


What was the thing where a book seller refused to sell someone books after they said they were going to decorate their bathroom with them?
posted by RobotHero at 1:27 PM on December 23, 2017


the analogies of burning hundred dollar bills are really a lot closer to the truth than something like ketchup on steak

Yo did you miss that the steak is well done?

but why not a Listerine snob

You can. Purple Listerine is the superior Listerine.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 1:27 PM on December 23, 2017


Wonderful post!
There are things that confuse me, though: if someone gives you some advice about something they know more about that you, why wouldn't you listen? That seems strange to me. Even if I was the biggest cheese nerd, I'd imagine a cheesemonger knew more than me, and that would be why I was in his shop.
And if you don't like steak, why don't you buy some other dish? I can only eat steak when I am very hungry, so I mostly order chicken or fish or a vegetarian dish at restaurants. I don't get the cook to ruin the steak and then ruin it more by pouring ketchup over it.
posted by mumimor at 1:30 PM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


He was on a weird grated cheese trip at the time.

Please tell me there’s a lot of backstory here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


a stereotypical ignorant American consumer.'

Was the guy even American? He said that the cheesemonger "threw a spanner in the works".
posted by thelonius at 2:32 PM on December 23, 2017


Brits are rapidly becoming Americans-lite as far as the rest of Europe is concerned, what with the belligerent exceptionalism.
posted by Dysk at 2:39 PM on December 23, 2017


I was in a supermarket last week and the guy in an apron manning the butcher's counter had no idea what a tri-tip was. I'd rather have difficult but knowledgeable than some pretender who passed a meat saftey exam.
posted by cmfletcher at 2:48 PM on December 23, 2017


Then get your meat from local farms. I do, and I appreciate their knowledge.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:00 PM on December 23, 2017


Was the guy even American?

He was, in my head, because that makes the story funnier. Him being a brit makes is too subtle - Britain IMHO has excellent cheeses to rival French products. America.... Yeah I know some exceptions, Cowgirl Creamery, Vermont Creamery, yadda yadda but I‘m disillusioned about American cheeses ever since I spotted what I thought was a Banon in The Cheeseboard‘s case - my childhood‘s formative gateway fancy cheese -, only to be told it was O‘Banon, a bourbon-flavored (!!!), pasteurized (!!!!!) specialty from Indiana. I refused to even try it, to the surprise of the enthusiastic salesperson, which is where I turned the thread‘s story on its head - snobby European customer meets American cheesemonger.

(I like American Processed Cheese Product on my medium rare burger btw, preferably the ‚fancy’ Kraft deli slices.)
posted by The Toad at 4:20 PM on December 23, 2017


“Do you know how insane it sounds to defend well done steak with ketchup?"

So that would be a, "Yes, the world will descend into chaos and madness," then. Good to know, I guess.


Especially apt since Drumpf not only ketchups his steak but eats it well-done.

There’s a hunk of Cotswold in my refrigerator that is calling my name.
posted by bendy at 5:59 PM on December 23, 2017


Educating the client is part of caring about your job. It's no different than a designer trying to dissuade somebody

It's also about cultural communication. An american expert in cheese would have said something like "oh certainly how much would you like, but do note that this choice will probably ruin your party due to the sub optimal characteristics, how about using this extra special emmental, it's only a few dollars per pound more and so much better in fondue." other sub-cultures would be more subtle "you fuck'n idiot, bad choice" but somehow the french refusal to sell offends some 'mercan sensibilities even though it's essentially the same message.
posted by sammyo at 6:30 PM on December 23, 2017


Yo did you miss that the steak is well done?

Yes, but most of the discussion here seemed to be harping on the ketchup and not the doneness, which is really more about taste.
posted by destrius at 7:04 PM on December 23, 2017


What I’ve learned from this thread is that I should put ketchup in my fondue instead of cheese.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:56 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Market failure. The theories are very nicely just-so but in reality capitalism isn't actually perfect.

Appreciate the condescension, but I’m actually looking for a real answer. Something like “people who like it can’t afford to pay more because they’re older and on a fixed income” or “people think paying more than 60 Euros is ridiculous, because that’s what they paid 10 years ago” or “it’s more valuable to export cheeses but it can’t be made to EU standards”.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:06 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Best Kosher dogs

*sniff*, hardly. canus ordinaire at best, acceptable in a pinch, one supposes, after a few too many White Russians. Vienna Beef! Or one might as well be eating a dreadful Lincoln Park Zoo Polish, slathered in park district poison-yellow mustard.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:10 PM on December 23, 2017


"This all reminds me of what we have to endure here in Chicago, the whole "Wait! You are castigating me for having the temerity, the utter gall, to put ketchup on finely ground cow and/or pig nostril and anus encased in sheep intestine wall?""

Okay but here's the thing. First of all, Chicago dogs are all-beef, if you're eating pork hot dogs in Chicago, those are out-of-town dogs. But much more importantly, Chicago hot dog traditions come out of a local tradition of German-Polish sausages made by immigrants, with specific seasonings and uses. When you get a bratwurst, or whatever, to eat hot-dog fashion, that wurst has been carefully prepared and seasoned. It's not just random mixed leftover pig parts. It's a food in a specific culinary tradition, Americanized by a specific immigrant community in specific ways. I have a number of friends who still maintain a sausage-making tradition dating back five generations where once a year they get all the ingredients (including the intestine casings!) and make their own Chicago German or Polish sausages, even though they're by now American mutts and not particularly connected to the ethnic community or history beyond sausage-making. And those wursts and whatnot have their flavors complemented or even enhanced by mustard; but the sugar in ketchup drowns the seasonings in the wursts and makes them all taste like vaguely meaty ketchup vehicles. And that's why you don't put ketchup on a Chicago dog. (And why it's okay for little kids to -- kids are understood to prefer some sugar to smooth out the complex flavors of a good wurst.) I don't know that it makes a huge ton of difference on a Vienna Beef frank, although you definitely get more of the beefy flavor with mustard, whereas ketchup makes the ketchup flavor dominate -- I think a lot of that is just that Chicago hot dogs come out of a German/Polish sausage tradition where ketchup is verboten and so it remains even on the mass-produced beef franks. But on a bratwurst or the wurst of your choice, smothering it in ketchup is kind-of a shame.

I don't care if people put ketchup on their hot dogs, and I'm well-aware most of the rest of the country eats (pork) hot dogs that way. Even my own kids just get a joking stink-eye if they want ketchup on a hot dog and I let them do it. But there IS a good reason why Chicago dogs don't have ketchup.

(In my deference to varying tastes and palates, whenever I serve hot dogs and/or bratwurst, I always try to make at least four varieties of mustard available. Much more important than the ketchup at an Illinois party!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:12 PM on December 23, 2017 [12 favorites]


vaguely meaty ketchup vehicles
You say that like it is a bad thing?
posted by Chitownfats at 9:15 PM on December 23, 2017


I actually got detoured in to a rabbit hole for this question, Rock 'em, Sock 'em -- I am extrapolating a little bit here from some of what I've read about similar alpine cheeses and some of the struggles that they're going through:

A few things to understand about the Gruyere family of alpine cheeses: Beaufort, Abondance, Comte, and Swiss Gruyere:

1. They're certified according to the AOC, which is a Government practice whose sole mission is to define when You or Anyone Else Are Doing It Wrong. Or really, why only Champagne can come from the Champagne region of France, and everything else is sparkling wine.

2. They are made in mountain villages in a region of eastern/southeastern France and western Switzerland. These villages are old, and hard to get to, and like many agricultural communities they struggle to retain and attract younger generations who may be more interested in stretching their wings.

3. Beaufort in particular has to come from the milk of specific cows grazing in these mountain meadows. This is required by the AOC regulations. Beaufort, for example, must not only be made in the historic region of the Haute-Savoie, but it must also only be made from the milk of Abondance or Tarentaise cattle, and it must be made from a single herd. There's no pooling or blending from different farms like what you have with Comte or Gruyere. Which, on one hand will limit economies of scale, but on another hand is supposed to give you some really interesting differences in terroir, as one dairy's Beaufort made from summer milk will taste differently from another dairy's Beaufort made from winter milk.

So, you've already got a few things going against being able to scale up Beaufort. It has to be grown in a remote place, from a specific breed of cattle, and it can only be manufactured and aged at a small scale. Contrast this with, say, Comte, which has gotten more productive because they're allowed to pool their milk within a community, and they have places like Fort St. Antoine* to handle their aging, and you can see how the effects of AOC regulations can affect the production scale of cheeses before the consumer's euro even enters the picture.

For scotch nerds, Beaufort is a single malt like Highland Park, while Comte or Gruyere are blends like Johnny Walker. Very strictly defined and controlled blends, but blends nonetheless.

As to what has made 24-month / 36 month Beaufort harder to find in recent months/years. One part is European financial uncertainty. If you're a small dairy, you may only have, say, capacity to age 100 wheels of Beaufort. Let's say that you commit to 30 wheels of young 6 month cheese, 30 wheels of 1 year, 20 wheels of 18 month and 20 wheels of 24 month -- what you get is in any given year, you're really only selling about 100 wheels of cheese (turning over those 6 month slots twice in that year, selling the one years, and selling half of the 18 months) But you can't price those 1 year cheeses at double the price of the 6 month, because they're not twice as tasty to the end consumer. So your young cheeses are your (ahem) cash cow that carry the dairy, and the older cheeses are things to keep you relevant and interesting to connoisseurs. Because it's only in the older cheeses that the particular merits of your herd will stand out. The young stuff is still too much like Comte.

But then, throw in the Greek and Spanish austerity. Throw in Brexit. Throw in the migration crisis. All of a sudden people have less of an appetite for luxury. People are tightening their belts. You're getting less revenue, and you realize you can't afford to keep 20-40 slots of your aging cellar sitting around until 2018 before you can sell them off and cash them in. So, you sell off the cheeses that you cellared last year now as 12 month or 18 month instead of waiting six months to sell them as 24 month aged. You don't even think about trying to age something into 2019. Who knows if we'll even have an EU then.

Add on to this the gift that keeps on giving: global warming. The meadows are drying out. The cattle get thirsty and dehydrated. Their milk starts to get less productive and you get fewer wheels out of the same cows. Do you buy more cows? Invest in more meadows? Or just sell more young cheese?

It's a tricky problem and not something that can just be solved by asking more consumers to throw more money at it, because consumers won't. I don't have easy answers myself. You could change the AOC designations but that could potentially change the character of Beaufort. We've talked on this site in the past about the loss of heritage bananas because Dole reformatted their plantations with Cavendish bananas, but that was all done in the name of making bananas more available to more people at more times of the year. Or about the extinction of certain foodways or techniques because they weren't economically viable (for varying definitions of viable). Not everything can or should be saved by making it more popular or more plentiful; because the act of doing that destroys the thing itself.

Anyway, that's my nerdery for the evening. Have fun with the rest of the thread.

(* -- someday I will do a FPP on Fort St. Antoine aka the Cathedral of Comte. It was a derelict WWI artillery fort that was purchased by an affineur named Marcel Petit who recognized that its climate was perfect for aging cheese. Apparently, when visiting the fort you'll find yourself seeing it from a distance as a small hill, except with concrete out at different angles, and then you'll see a door like Helm's Deep that dwarfs your car. And then it will groan open and you will be ushered into tomb-like concrete hallways with wheels of Comte stacked into the darkness.)
posted by bl1nk at 9:35 PM on December 23, 2017 [42 favorites]


Well I just bought some Beaufort. My grocery store wrote on their little description card that it would be great for mac and cheese. Based on the fact that a) I could find it here in California, b) it wasn't stupid expensive, and c) they said that, I'm guessing it's not so aged. It tastes like a smoother/richer gruyere.

Huh. You know... I read that description like 3 hours ago but actually it didn't occur to me until now that really I should make mac & cheese. I mean, I've got this beaufort, some roquefort, and a bunch of v. nice parmigiano reggiano, so maybe I should go whole hog. Or, arguably, hog-and-half - I also have some 00 semolina flour and a pasta extruder. HAHA NO SNOOTY SHOPKEEPER CAN STOP ME NOW!!! AHAHAHAHAHAAAAÆA!!!!

 

(but seriously there's tons of cheeses I that yeah I wouldn't do that with)
posted by aubilenon at 10:20 PM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Brits are rapidly becoming Americans-lite

Oh god don't rub it in, I feel like we're a week away from banning all cheeses apart from Good Old British Cheddar And Won't That Just Show Them =(
posted by ominous_paws at 11:16 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Appreciate the condescension, but I’m actually looking for a real answer.

Not my intention, but glad you appreciate it. Buyers don't actually get to set prices, sellers do. Maybe buyers would be willing to pay more, but the cheese ends up sold out because sellers don't have perfect information. All your suggestions are about what buyers would be willing to pay. It's going to be about what sellers are willing to charge.
posted by Dysk at 11:44 PM on December 23, 2017


The original story also suggests that at least some French cheesemonger prefer to allocate or restrict the dwindling supply based on ability and willingness to properly appreciate the fine aged cheese, rather than the ability and willingness to pay ever increasing prices.
posted by Dysk at 11:51 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


bl1nk-Thank you for the reality of this ancient agro business!
posted by Oyéah at 11:11 AM on December 24, 2017


I'm reminded of my sister coming home from Kindergarten and reporting that the lunch ladies would let them have ketchup or mustard on their hot dogs, but not both.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:21 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's a tricky problem and not something that can just be solved by asking more consumers to throw more money at it, because consumers won't.

It seems like a few things are going on here:

1) consumers don't value the 12-24 month difference enough to pay for what it costs
1a) "what it costs" is not just the price of getting a wheel of cheese to 24 months, it's also lowered liquidity for cheesemongers, more risk that prices will drop while the cheese is aging, and similar.

Fascinating stuff. Sounds like one could increase supplies of the 24 month by asking consumers to pre-order or pre-pay for it. Consumers could pay the same amount, but the investment would be substantially less risky for cheesemongers, making it more attractive to them to invest long-term. In other words, if it's possible to do so, shifting the risk to consumers would probably increase supply by allowing the producers to invest in the aging process with more confidence that they'll be adequately compensated for it.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:03 PM on December 24, 2017


Not my intention, but glad you appreciate it. Buyers don't actually get to set prices, sellers do. Maybe buyers would be willing to pay more, but the cheese ends up sold out because sellers don't have perfect information. All your suggestions are about what buyers would be willing to pay. It's going to be about what sellers are willing to charge.

Right, but information from both buyers and sellers goes into pricing decisions made by buyers. Buyers signal how much they are willing to pay for something. Sellers receive those signals and use them to make pricing decisions.

What's interesting in this scenario is that these cheeses are highly valued by buyers, to the extent that there's a shortage. In many cases, that would lead to increased prices. Higher prices would then drive buyers out of the market until there wasn't a shortage and/or encourage sellers to increase production. Obviously, that does not always happen. I was curious about why it wasn't happening, and happily, got a very interesting answer. And also your answer.

Your response might be that "value" and "willingness to pay money" are not exactly the same thing, which I already know. That is why I suggested a number of scenarios in which consumers might not be able or willing to spend enough money to demonstrate how much they value this particular cheese.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:34 PM on December 24, 2017


Buyers signal how much they are willing to pay for something.

What mechanism are you imagining for this? Because cheesemongers either know that the product sells, or that it doesn't. As a consumer, I don't recall having ever been quizzed on what I'd be willing to pay for something. There has to be a mechanism for this stuff to actually happen.

Sounds like one could increase supplies of the 24 month by asking consumers to pre-order or pre-pay for it.

In a spherical core sort of world, yes. In the one we actually live in, I suspect consumers would prove unwilling to pre-order cheese years in advance.

Cheesemongers are also kind of both consumers and providers, here. The cheesemongers might not be willing to pay what they consider an exorbitant amount for cheese, well beyond its actual worth in their estimation, even if it is closer to the actual market value and they could still sell it at a profit. Certainly, the attitudes on display from the anecdote suggest that such an idea isn't far fetched. Reality isn't economics 101, not all shopkeepers are single minded capitalists, and real world pricing mechanics can't usually be reduced to a supply and demand graph, especially when it comes to things handled in small volumes in economic terms.
posted by Dysk at 1:53 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


In a spherical core sort of world

Spherical cow that should say.
posted by Dysk at 2:16 PM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Y'all are imagining a level of market efficiency that does not exist. Or quite possibly is actively resisted, if stereotypes about mountain cheesemakers are to believed.
posted by Nelson at 2:32 PM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]


Y'all are imagining a level of market efficiency that does not exist. Or quite possibly is actively resisted, if stereotypes about mountain cheesemakers are to believed.

Naw. It's obvious that these kinds of models doesn't work perfectly in every scenario. They express an idea about what should happen, if certain assumptions are true. When a model doesn't "work" it can tell you a lot about how accurate your assumptions are.

For example, above, I described a very simplified version of a model that describes the interaction between supply, demand, and price. I then discussed the ways in which this particular scenario deviates from the expected result described by the model. That is not an assertion that the model is perfect or anything like that. But describing things in terms of the model gives us an interesting set of analytical tools.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:46 PM on December 24, 2017


What mechanism are you imagining for this? Because cheesemongers either know that the product sells, or that it doesn't. As a consumer, I don't recall having ever been quizzed on what I'd be willing to pay for something. There has to be a mechanism for this stuff to actually happen.

Not buying is an action that communicates information about demand. Demand is sometimes partly driven by price.

In a spherical cow sort of world, yes. In the one we actually live in, I suspect consumers would prove unwilling to pre-order cheese years in advance.

Based on...?

Cheesemongers are also kind of both consumers and providers, here. The cheesemongers might not be willing to pay what they consider an exorbitant amount for cheese, well beyond its actual worth in their estimation, even if it is closer to the actual market value and they could still sell it at a profit. Certainly, the attitudes on display from the anecdote suggest that such an idea isn't far fetched.

Alas, I think that in my suggestion, I ended up cutting the poor cheesemongers out of the equation completely in favor of consumers directly preordering from the cheesemakers.

Cheesemongers being unwilling to pay more than they think the cheese is worth sounds a lot like my earlier guess: "“people think paying more than 60 Euros is ridiculous, because that’s what they paid 10 years ago”. Suffice to say that I do not actually think you are disagreeing with me (or telling me anything new) when you suggest that irrational preferences might be affecting supply.

Reality isn't economics 101, not all shopkeepers are single minded capitalists, and real world pricing mechanics can't usually be reduced to a supply and demand graph, especially when it comes to things handled in small volumes in economic terms.

...yes, I know all of this. So do economists. You keep saying things that are 100% compatible with what I'm saying (and with the field of economics, generally) and then acting as though you are making a real, substantial critique. I assure you that you are doing nothing but demonstrating your profound unfamiliarity with the subject that we are discussing.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:32 PM on December 24, 2017


If anyone is interested in learning more about price, this is a good intro video.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:34 PM on December 24, 2017


Rock 'em Sock 'em, I think you're applying a serious case of Engineer's Disease to what is, in actuality, a hugely complicated system that has evolved over literally thousands of years.

"Makers produce cheese, and buyers consume cheese" is an oversimplification on the same level as "People vote in their best interests". The reality is there are social, historical, political, and market forces at work here. And while it's fun to imagine a perfect, frictionless, and fully informed transaction taking place.... reality is always messier.

Fortunately, the French government has this problem somewhat solved. They call it Appellation d'origine contrôlée, and it is a classification system for products that allows them to priced according to their method of (gov't certified) production. And this cheesemonger has this problem solved, because he required both EU currency and cultural currency in the price.
posted by weed donkey at 4:11 PM on December 24, 2017 [3 favorites]


Also, the idea that the cheesemakers are adequately motivated to take the financial risk in increasing the amount of their production that's locked up for 2 years, the cheese shops are wanting to increase the value of their inventory but reduce turnover and the distributors and wholesalers are able to handle the capital issues too all seems pretty moot.

Far better to avoid the indirect costs of having a pricing outlier like that, at the cost of the occasional stock out. I bet the disappointed Beaufort customers don't go away empty handed when there's none left.
posted by ambrosen at 6:58 PM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


Not buying is an action that communicates information about demand. Demand is sometimes partly driven by price.

Right, but the prices are low enough that this literally never happens. Supply is exhausted because of various manufacturing constraints. To reach the point where consumers do buying, the cheesemongers have to raise prices first which they could be unwilling to do because they know they can sell out at the current price, which is a win for them. No precious scarce cheese going off in their shop, unsold. All the cheesemongers know is that they can sell at the current price, and make a profit. What would motivate them to raise prices? How is it sensible to just continually raise prices until you don't sell? That's just a sure fire way to end up not selling your stock and wasting cheese for which you (the cheesemonger) evidently have great respect.

Based on...?

The way people actually buy cheese ("I'm making fondue tonight, and need..." Works for appropriate uses of Beaufort, too)? The fact that your proposed model doesn't actually seem to be implemented for almost any food markets? The fact that it doesn't externalise all the risk (spoilage during ageing) and in fact creates new risks presold cheese not being deliverable due to aforementioned spoilage)? The fact that it's self-evidently a completely unreasonable suggestion if you think even medium hard about it?
posted by Dysk at 7:15 PM on December 24, 2017


Am I the only person who also played out the Monty Python Cheeseshop skit in their mind, as they read this?
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 6:17 PM on December 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


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