Meaningless Cheese™ - a review
The other day I had my first experience with Meaningless Cheese™ and it fairly shook my world to its foundations. Even now, five days later, I can barely think of anything else.
As everyone knows conventional cheese is produced using the milk of cows and/or other animals but it is more than a natural product. It is a collaboration between humans and beasts using processes established by generations. We don't just find it tucked inside a cow ready to eat. Bacteria needs to be added. It needs to be carefully cultured. Cheese is by definition a cultured thing. It is inevitable that ideas and numerous other things will fall into the vat.
No surprise then that all of the cheeses I've enjoyed over the years have contained traces of the most refined elements of our shared history and traditions. Some of them are blatant in this tendency to summon up lazy idyllic days spent by the river, others offer up their references less willingly and it might take a while but keep chewing that Queso Iberico and it is inevitable that your thoughts will turn to finding a windmill to tilt up against.
I've had Orkney Extra Mature Cheddar that had so much structure to it there was no way it could have been attempted without the inspiration of modernist architects such as Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. The way in which the sharp bite of this cheddar is suspended until the final denouement also put me in mind of Hitchcock at his most manipulatively obtuse.
Who can forget the great Blue Stilton Truckle releases of the 1970's? A cheese that had so much narrative intensity that angry mobs started descending on the tiny village of Colston Bassett to demand the latest hair-raising instalment. It is surely no coincidence that the great visionary Russian film-maker Andrie Tarkovsky used to spread this delicacy on his sandwiches.
Even milder cheeses that haven't risen to the meaningful heights of those mentioned above - say a Wensleydale or a Double Gloucester - contain unmistakable whispers of rural folk getting increasingly annoyed by Londoners buying up second properties in the area and consequently ruining the local pub. It is there in the nutty aftertaste.
Which brings me to the bizarre cheese I encountered last week. The branding and packaging should have prepared me better for the shock but somehow it didn't. Meaningless Cheese™ looked just like many other cheeses. It was yellow and cut into a wedge. It was curiously un-smelly but I knew that wasn't necessarily an indicator. But on putting it in my mouth.....nothing. Not a thing. Just absence. It left me feeling flat and lifeless. What is the point of this? Of me? Of anything?
I might as well go and crash my car into a tree I thought.
But just as I was revving up the engine a rogue thought entered my head. Hold on a second...what if...what if?
Could it be that Meaningless Cheese™ was some kind of avant garde cheese-disguised intervention meant to brutally ridicule the notion of finding meaning in 2020 Britain and indeed the world?
Is it less of a culinary and cultural catastrophe and more of a meta-ironic slap in the face in the manner of dialectical theatre impresario Bertolt Brecht?
My head was spinning with possibilities. Everything seemed up for grabs. And then I read the small print on the product's packaging.
It turns out that Meaningless Cheese™ is made from a herd of cows who get all their information about the world from the Daily Express.
They are therefore phenomenally disinterested in anything apart from the unexplained circumstances of Princess Diana's death.
They just stare into the void producing milk that can't be made interesting whatever you do to it.
It is no good to anyone.
It's all their fault.