August 08, 2004
Cheesy Behavior

A few days ago, Power Line reported on a potential First Lady's unusual taste in sandwiches:

On their way to a late appearance in Dubuque, Iowa, Kerry and his wife stopped at Baumgartner's tavern in Monroe, Wis., where Teresa Heinz Kerry ordered a Limburger cheese sandwich with raw onions and mustard on rye bread.

Limburger is well-known to cartoon-watchers as the foulest-smelling cheese know to man, which makes it an unusually pungent choice for someone in the middle of a political campaign. Raw onions don't exactly help when you're meeting new people by the hundreds and trying to get them to like you and your husband. There seem to be only three possibilities to explain THK's choice of sandwiches:

  1. Billionaires have access to unusually effective brands of toothpaste and mouthwash, and perhaps to other oral hygiene technology unknown to ordinary mortals.
  2. She wasn't planning on getting close to -- much less kissing, on the cheeks or elsewhere -- any other human being that day.
  3. She just didn't care who might be offended, as long as she could eat what she wanted. Who would dare criticize the breath of a billionaire and potential First Lady? (Other than pseudonymous bloggers, I mean.)

I once bought a hunk of Limburger in Bowling Green, Ohio, where the cheese selection was severely limited. It was the only kind the grocery store had that I hadn't already tried. Knowing that Gorgonzola is like Blue cheese squared, I foolishly imagined that Limburger would be something like Gorgonzola squared or even cubed, that is, an extremely concentrated version of an otherwise acceptable flavor, and was looking forward to trying it. When I got home and opened the package I learned that the problem with Limburger is not the quantity of the flavor so much as its quality. It smelled like something you might find between your toes after you had been bathless for a week and dead for three days after that, "truly, absolutely and irrevocably foul", as a this amusing page puts it. I will gladly eat almost any kind of cheese, including St. Felicien, whose bright orange mold looks exactly the same as the stuff growing in the corners of the bathtub in my 4th-to-last apartment, but I had to throw the Limburger away -- wrapping it in several resealable baggies first. My kitchen still stank for days afterwards. And I didn't even have onions with mine.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at August 08, 2004 05:19 PM

What, no ketchup?

Posted by: Sasha Castel on August 9, 2004 06:09 AM

A couple of things...

You did not mention that Limburger and onion is both a European and mid-Western favorite combination. Ms. Heinz-Kerry was playing to the masses.

Second, you've puny, dare I say "girly man", taste in cheese. Limburger is divine, second only to the fabled Durian fruit in its melding of incredible odor and heavenly flavor.

Posted by: John on August 10, 2004 10:51 PM

When I was in college some 30 years back, the equivalent of a nuclear strike in inter-dorm warfare was to smear Limburger cheese all over the walls of another dorm's bathrooms, which tended to produce extreme constipation among dwellers in the target dorm. It was generally just possible to get in and out without breathing if urination was all you needed to accomplish, but defecation was right out.

I'm told Limburger actually tastes quite good but I am unwilling to be empirical about it.

Posted by: Dave Trowbridge on August 13, 2004 05:49 PM

I can't say that I like Kerry much, but I like his wife better and better. If you're super, ultra, mega rich it is far more respectable to show no concern at all for the proles than to eat at Wendy's and TH-K shows very little concern for the proles- how she wound up married to that poncing milksop is a mystery to me... if she were 30 years youger.... Of course I think Limburger is tasty stuff.

Now, if you want to find something that will permananently befoul your kitchen I suggest a strategic investment in asafoetida... When I was in school my roommate's girlfriend bought a very small chunk of it while possessed by a short-lived mania for Indian cookery... and I mean a very small chunk- less than a gram, I'd guess. Its presence in our kitchen was very, err, noticeable. I tolerated it, but when our third roommate came home he wrinkled his nose, went straight to the cupboard containing the offending substance, and moved it to the basement... we could still smell it, but it was not quite so bad at that remove....

Posted by: Tagore Smith on August 14, 2004 08:37 AM

I'd like to understand something. If our sense of taste is so dependent on our sense of smell (except for the four basics: sweet, sour, salty, bitter), then whyizzit that Limburger and the durian can taste so good while smelling so foul?

Posted by: dangermouse on August 14, 2004 11:28 AM