My Ode to the King of Cheese: Parmigiano-Orange Zucchini Fritters
I’m three months into my thirtieth year, and it’s become official: I am not aging backwards. I had briefly entertained the notion that, by some arcane feat of magic or dubious loophole in the natural law, I might merely crest the top of this thirty year timeline before slowly and gracefully falling backwards where I would begin to age in reverse, somehow growing younger and fresher as the days wound on.
Now that I’ve written that out, it does sound a little stupid. But I like to think that stranger things have happened. Case in point: the platypus.
My mother refers to aging as “ripening,” like we are some kind of fruit (and from the size of my hips, we must be pears), but I prefer to think of myself as a fine cheese, developing complex tastes and textures and best when paired with a nice wine and a pool of olive oil.
Ideally, if I were a cheese (you know, in this mythical universe where I could also theoretically age backwards), I’d be parmigiano-reggiano. I’d have a long, lyrical name, but my friends could casually refer to me as “parm.” Like, “Hey parm, how’s it going? Why don’t we meet up later down by the alfredo pool?” I’d have great taste, and like most geniuses, I’d be a little nutty. There’d be a lot of imitators but I’d be the king, baby.
When I was a kid, we kept parmesan cheese in the house. Not parmigiano. Parmesan. You know, the little shaker with the green top. That stuff. I’d sprinkle it on my Chef Boyardee, that I “made” myself on the stove top…or in the microwave, depending on the fluctuating levels of my laziness.
Yeah, I’ve come a long way since then.
The thing about your first sample of real parmigiano cheese is that afterwards, you can’t really go back to the way you were before, to the green top. You’ve had real flavor now, and it was gritty and savory and nutty and maybe a bit salty and you could nibble on it for days. And then you wonder how many other lies processed food has told you. It’s a slippery slope, really, a gateway cheese to a vast, hidden world of delicious flavor.
You begin cooking with more authentic, fresh ingredients, even weird looking ones from half a world away. You start sampling every cheese you can get your hands on: grana padano and manchego, gouda and soft goat cheeses and more, but you always watch that giant wheel of parmigiano out of the corner of your eye while you’re perusing the Whole Foods cheese “odds and ends” basket. ’Some day,’ you think, ‘I will have an entire wheel of parmigiano to myself.’
Also, maybe I could age backwards.
Yes, these are the thoughts food bloggers have. :)