Say Cheese by
(34 Stories)

Prompted By Comfort Food

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From “Pearls Before Swine”

I looooooooove cheese.  When I was a young boy, there were not many different kinds of cheese you could find on the store shelves in Logan, in southeastern Ohio.  So we mostly had blocks of cheddar, or Velveeta.  I remember one day recently talking with a friend about how much I used to love my mom’s macaroni and cheese, with “real Velveeta cheese” – of course, I realized as the words were coming out of my mouth that “real” and “Velveeta” should never be used in the same sentence.  But a big bowl of macaroni and “real Velveeta” cheese was always something that would warm my heart.  And sometimes she would add “real tuna” our of a can!  Sometimes, we would have as an appetizer a “daisy”, a plate with circular rings of cheese chunks with a big dollop of yellow mustard in the center, that everyone could dip into.

I realized as the the words were coming out of my mouth that "real" and "Velveeta" should never be used in the same sentence. 

My dad would occasionally bring in some liverwurst and spread that on toast with some Limburger cheese.  I have thought about buying some Limburger, but I think June would throw me, and that super smelly cheese, out of the house.

Many years later, I would make a spicy dip from tomatoes, onions and Mexican Velveeta, especially the extra spicy variety, although that often made living near me painful for others.

Today, my taste in cheeses is greatly refined.  As a boy, I hated the idea of blue cheese, thought it tasted like vomit.  Now I love it, particularly the Saint Agur  that I can often find at the neighborhood Harris-Teeter (a subsidiary of Kroger) or at Whole Foods.  It’s very creamy in texture and always a great treat.

Other cheese favorites: Edam, Gouda, Humboldt Fog, Taleggio, Morbier (which has a thin layer of ash in the middle), Cheshire, Brie (baked and spread on a toast point with a little bit of raspberry jam on top), top shelf parmesan – I could go on and on, but you get the point.  I looooove cheese!


Profile photo of Jeff Gerken Jeff Gerken

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Marian says:

    Can’t say I blame you on your love of cheese, Jeff. We had Velveeta in our house as well, and now I just remember the greasy taste. While cow dairy is off limits to me, there are wonderful goat cheese to enjoy, for which I’m grateful.

  2. Dave Ventre says:

    Have you ever sampled Norwegian Geitost? If not, I advise you not to. It’s cheese-like but made differently. Presumably from reindeer hooves. Hard to imagine that Geitost and Jarlsberg come from the same nation!

  3. I stopped eating cheese (and nearly all dairy) in 2007, but I enjoyed this tour among the great fromages. I too once loved Velveeta–not necessarily in mac & cheese, just nice slabs of it on white bread.
    If the kind in the can is the “real tuna,” what do you call the sushi-quality yellow tail?

  4. I get it Jeff, you love cheese!

    We all certainly have our favorites, I love havarti with sliced apples or pears, and thinly sliced Swiss and tomato with mustard on pumpernickel ain’t bad!

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    I got a huge chuckle from this story, Jeff. I may forward it to my husband. For him the ONLY way to make Mac n’ Cheese is with Velveeta. It’s what we all grew up with, right? Eating in the ’50s was a very different experience in the U.S. Like you, my taste for cheese has broadened considerably, but I’m not sure I’m as adventurous as you. Thanks for the warning about the spicy dip you made with Mexican Velveeta. I get the drift (so to speak).

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Never had Velveeta, but our son lived on Swiss cheese dipped in mustard as a kid. Neither of his younger sisters can tolerate even the smell of mustard to this day.

  7. I’m with you (up to the Limburger), Jeff…these days my favorite is Humboldt Fog, a California specialty, my favorite favorite being the one made in Point Reyes.

    As much as I love cheese, I have to/hate to admit that when I walked into a fromagerie in Paris years ago, I walked out without buying anything. It was absolutely overwhelming, especially since I don’t speak French. I think there are about 500 types of French cheese, some of them black and moldy but evidently edible! I did find a smaller shop and chose three varieties that looked “normal.”

    • Jeff Gerken says:

      Humboldt Fog was on my list. We visited Point Reyes in 2016 for our younger daughter’s wedding. Unfortunately, that marriage did not last long, but the wedding was an amazing party, held at what had been Marconi’s station for receiving radio messages from across the Pacific.

  8. Suzy says:

    Wonderful story about cheese, Jeff. I remember that Pearls comic – it’s my favorite strip currently – and applaud Pig’s revised plan for life. I love cheese too, but with a husband and daughter who are lactose intolerant, the only cheeses I eat nowadays are hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and manchego. I’ve never had Velveeta or Limburger.

  9. Khati Hendry says:

    There is a great cheese store in Vancouver called “Les Amis du Fromage”–full of an amazing variety of cheeses from North America and Europe, with extremely knowledgeable staff. Like going to France but in English. My cheese-a-holic cousin turned me on to it, and I recommend it as a necessary stop if you ever make it out this way.

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