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As it is and was and probably ever will be, the possibility of crushing disappointment is the oft-ignored shadow of our highest expectations. This is the pessimist’s view of the optimist’s hope. And never is my blissful optimism more inhumanly shattered than when I head down to my local Safeway in search of some aged Gouda.
For the uninitiated, aged Gouda is to cheese what the bull is to the china shop. It doesn’t float over your tongue in a passive waltz; it seizes your taste buds in a passionate tango. It is decidedly “bold.” This is not to say it is a taste devoid of subtlety, but with aged Gouda the subtlety exists within the defiant roar of its anti-subtlety—like nuanced melodies buried beneath staticky rumblecore.
Yet, aged gouda is not without the Achilles heel that plagues all beautiful things—utter irreplaceability, the impossibility of substitutes (its resemblance to its supposed ancestor—simple gouda—is temporal only, it is an apple flung far from the tree by hurricane winds)—and so here I am, marooned by my taste in the Safeway cheese aisle, sifting through the fifty varieties of cheddar that are nothing but pale reminders of what my mouth is not enjoying.