I encountered the cheese man at the marché in Carpentra in the south of France. He was surrounded by the wheels of the one cheese he sold, Doux de Montagne, and talked as you tasted, explaining the flavors of each bite and why they differed.
Each time someone new approached, he offered another taste and continued to explain: “The age of the cheese and what field the cows graze in affects the subtle flavor between this one over here and the one you’re tasting.”
I was enthralled.
“What’s different about the fields?” someone asked.
With a typical tilt of the head, he smiled and replied in the sing-songy drawl of his Provençal accent, “Le soleila.”
Someone repeated quizzically, “Le soleil?” “Ben oui, le soleila” (Yes, of course the sun), and he proceeded to explain: “You see, over there on that side of the street they have shade from those houses, and here we have the sun. In the fields there are mountains, and some fields have a lot of sun and others not as much. Like I said, c’est le soleila.”
As I paid for my cheese and moved on I saw the twinkle in his eye and heard the delight in his voice as he continued to explain the marvels of his cheese.
As I listened I’m not certain if he was really talking about cheese as much as he was expressing the wonders of the land and the culture that allowed him to make this wonderful cheese possible—and with every bite you could taste the love.
What about you?
Have you encountered people who are so passionate about what they produce that you can't help but be inspired?
Let us know, I'd love to hear.
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