Dear Cheese Lovers,
My mouth dropped open this morning while reading the Washington Post. No, it wasn’t over the section about the proposed Buy American stipulation requiring that all new stimulus projects be completed using only American goods and equipment, though I’m sure Thomas Jefferson, owner of the illustrious words, “The exercise of a free trade with all parts of the world [is] possessed by [a people] as of natural right” and Ronald Reagan, who said, “Our trade policy rests firmly on the foundation of free and open markets. I recognize ... the inescapable conclusion that all of history has taught: The freer the flow of world trade, the stronger the tides of human progress and peace among nations”, rolled over in their respective graves.
I was shocked and awed not by that cavalier attack on our broad free-trade liberties, but by the specific violation featured prominently on the front page (albeit below the fold): little old Roquefort is under attack! That sublime product of lactation, coagulation, and fermentation has always held a special place in my heart, despite its high price tag and limited availability. Not only do I have a particular affection for Roquefort, but so do Cheesetique’s discerning customers, who marvel at its romantic story of creation, rustic approach to production even today, and exclusive availability. Your love of raw milk Roquefort has made it a staple in many of my cheese classes and one of the most popular and consistent sellers at Cheesetique. Since opening our doors more than four years ago, we have never been without Roquefort Papillon (I prefer this brand above others, though we have also carried Carles, which is outstanding). We have sold hundreds of pounds of Roquefort despite its title as the most expensive cheese consistently carried at Cheesetique.
To sum up today’s article on Roquefort, the Bush administration recently imposed a 300% tariff on the importation of this rare cheese as a form of retaliation against the EU’s refusal to import America’s hormone-laden meat. Obviously, Roquefort is a TEENY TINY portion of imported food in the US, so why pick on this poor little cheese and, by association, the 600-person town of Roquefort? It’s called symbolism, my friends. Roquefort, like foie gras and truffles, simply says, “France”.
Why do I focus today on this seemingly insignificant example of protectionism at it worst when there are such large-scale issues to consider in our tumultuous time? For that reason exactly. There are so many huge examples of economic policies gone awry, totaling billions and trillions of dollars, and for that very reason, I point out this easily identifiable, but no less extreme violation of the American ways of free choice and trade.
As our own form of culinary protest, Cheesetique will continue to carry Roquefort until it is no longer available, which I assure you, will only be a matter of time. Not only will we continue to carry it, but its price will never exceed that which we pay for it. We encourage those of you that might have shied away from this pricey perfection in the past to come in and pick up a piece of one of the most historically significant and perfectly created foods in the world – at $20.00 per pound. Yes, you read correctly. $20 per pound.
Remember: Protectionism is bad. Roquefort is good. Long live the latter!
Or, as my friend Sid says, "Don't Spread on Me!"