Exegesis

Stephanie was fairly positive that she could not discern the exact contents of the cheese she had just tasted.

Frank, the owner of the cheese shop and her boss, had asked her to taste the fresh shipment of the fromage des etoiles, which had arrived that morning, and so she’d washed her hands, cleared off the the countertop, prepared carry-home boxes, cut a dozen sheets of waxed paper, and set out the cracker assortment on a nice glass tray to be paired with samples, before settling down on the stool behind the counter to have a taste. The fromage des etoiles had been shipped in the same kind of round wooden box as the camembert and she’d slipped it out of the box and peeled the waxed paper from the cheese’s thick wrinkled crust. She would keep the box herself, because it was the right size for itinerant buttons and wayward safety pins, but she carefully folded the paper back and paused, overcome by the cheese’s powerful funk. The smell alone should have warned her that this was no ordinary cheese. She took a clean knife from the utensil bin and sliced a thin wedge from the stinky, puckered cheese wheel, and laid the wedge on a wheat table cracker. The first bite filled her mouth with the most extraordinary blend of flavors and sent an intense jolt of pungency down her throat; she almost gagged on the taste. But then the second bite seemed to curb the potency of the first and to provide some sweet, round texture to complement the sharp first impression. Stephanie cut herself another narrow wedge from the wheel and carefully slid it onto another cracker. Stephanie considered herself a new convert to the religion of cheese, and like most converts she was a zealous evangelist. The fromage des etoiles, however, demanded more than her usual enthusiastic exegesis: this cheese deserved a religious text all its own.

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