Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sense Memory

Ever tasted a certain food or had a smell waft by that suddenly stimulates a moment or moments from the past? Not deja vu, but a memory so vivid it seems like you're reliving it? Well, I'm currently spending every morning in Norway, courtesty of Gjetost 'Ski Queen' cheese, a semi-sweet brown cheese from the country that spawned my father's family.

I spent a week in Norway back in the '90s. I went to meet Brian, who was wrapping up a gig on a Christopher Lambert movie filming in Oslo. We stayed at a 5 star hotel with an amazing breakfast buffet and I was introduced to Gjetost cheese. Thick slabs of crunchy whole grain bread toasted, spread with butter and drizzled with honey, then add slices of Gjetost, melt it under a broiler...yummy. Pickled herring in cream sauce on the side and a cup of coffee...it was truly the breakfast of champions.

I don't have the pickled herring (although I plan on getting some at Trader Joe's), but I found the Gjetost at Whole Foods. One small square lasts for a few weeks because you want to slice it very thin...a little goes a long way. Every time I take a bite of my whole grain toast with butter, honey and cheese, it reminds me of that weekspent in the country of my forefathers.
Never mind that one of them (my great-grandfather, to be precise) left Norway in disgrace when caught embezzling. Everyone needs a black sheep in the family tree.

But really, isn't it amazing that something as simple as a scent or a taste can let us vividly relive our past experiences? I think it's kinda cool.

(NOTE: I had a call from the Norwegian Cheese board, informing me that I had mispelled the name of their beloved cheese. I have corrected this error, but my ancestors frown at me from Valhalla.)


  • At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Jack Young said…

    It sure is.
    By the way, has your current email address changed? My server is currently rejecting everything I try to send you. Don't know what the problem is but i think the server itself is having a case of the stupids. Sorry to bother you this way but i'm concerned that communications seem to be cut off for no apparent reason.
    Hope things get better .
    Jack Young

  • At 4:40 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    Hey, jack,

    I can be reached at either zhadi@aol.com or zhadi1@yahoo.com. So if one doesn't work, try the other!

  • At 9:11 AM, Blogger Dave Fitzgerald said…

    Just found some fun facts on Gjetost Cheese:

    Gjetost (pronounced "yet-oast") is as exclusive to Norway as trolls and fjords. It all started over 100 years ago on a small summerfarm high up from Gudbrandsdalen Valley, famous for its rich farming traditions. The milk maid had just made the curd from cow's and goat's milk. The left over whey was boiling in a great iron kettle in the fireplace. Usually she would allow almost all the liquid to evaporate — and the golden paste that was left at the bottom of the kettle was used for sandwich spread. One night she expected visitors and wanted to serve them something special. She added cream and some goat's milk and poured the hot mixture into a mould. That night she probably served the first golden gjetost ever made. This cheese is best served in wafer thin slices.


  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    That is so cool, D! Thanks for sharing the info and for doing this lazy gal's research for her!

  • At 7:21 PM, Blogger Esereth said…

    Worse is when you remember a taste or flavor you will never, ever have again. There was a cheese served in the (fantastic) cafeteria while I was in a summer program in france that was....oh god. Everything cheese was meant to be. But I do not remember the name and there was nothing distinctive about the appearance and I will never have it again. Treasure your Gjetost, good job getting its name.

  • At 1:54 AM, Blogger Mr. Fabulous said…

    Is it anything like Velveeta? Cause that stuff rocks!

  • At 8:57 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    E, the best taste I remember is water that I drank from the source of a mountain spring in Austria. I was only about 11 years old, but it tasted like nectar. Unbelievably cold and pure and...well, it had flavor that had nothing to do with bugs or things taht you don't want in your water. Never tasted water like it since.

    Mr. F., I want you as a houseguest 'cause you'd be SOOO low maintenance! Velveeta on burgers with beer!


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