About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Cheesed Off
So people in Chicago think they have problems. The good city aldermen have banned the sale of foie gras within the city limits. Skillet doux and kiplog have had something to say about the issue. Briefly, in Australia the production of foie gras is banned but in a nice piece of hypocrisy, not the sale. But the thing that is bugging me at the moment is cheese, or more precisely Roquefort cheese.

Will Studd, our preeminent cheese man, who fought long and hard to have the ban on Roquefort cheese in Australia overturned, has been forced to bury not one but two tonnes of Roquefort cheese because it failed to meet a bacterial contamination standard for E. coli, which is said to have been set ridiculously low. It appears Australians are far more delicate than anyone else in the world and desperately need protecting from the evils of this cheese that is freely available anywhere in the world. I feel sad for Will, whose joy at having the ban on Roquefort overturned is so shortlived. He must have spent a small fortune fighting for this cheese and now the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service have found another way of banning it. The retail value of the destroyed cheese is $Aus 130,000.

I was kind of looking forward to a piece of Roquefort on the weekend, it's my birthday today and my older children are coming over on the weekend for a fondue. Guess I'll have to settle for some gruyere and raclette instead. Maybe next year.

My mate from the country rang yesterday and said he had some mushrooms for me. B is of German origin and has retired to a small property in Gippsland, east of Melbourne. He likes his hunting and fishing as well as foraging for mushrooms. B has planted silver birch trees on his land just so he can have birch mushrooms. This season has been excellent for them, so he set some aside for us.

When I arrived we walked down together to the birch plantation as he wanted to show me how many mushrooms he was getting. There were so many that B had been standing on some in order to show me his crop. There were other mushrooms as well, in particular, the toadstool fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) was on full display with some trees completely surrounded with them. Everyone is familiar with this species, it is the red one with white spots that is commonly drawn in children's books. B told me this toadstool was poisonous, I told him not really, it's hallucinogenic. There is a recorded death due to this mushroom whose common name, fly agaric, was due to the practice in the middle ages of breaking the cap into platefuls of milk in order to stupefy flies. Don't ask. I don't know why.

The Lapps observed their reindeer herds would eat this mushroom and then appear intoxicated, so the Lapps themselves tried it. What happens initially is the central nervous system is affected and the muscles of the affected person start to twitch and pull convulsively, followed by dizziness and a death like sleep. During this stage the mushroom is often vomited but the drunkenness and stupor continue. Whilst in this state vivid visions occur and upon waking there is a sense of elation along with intense physical activity due to the nerves being highly stimulated.

I know gentle readers that none of you would try this, remember there is a recorded death.
  posted at 6:51 am

At 8:55 am, Blogger Reb said...

As a fellow Roquefort and unpasturised cheese fanatic, this is sad news indeed. Will Stud is a gastronomic hero and I have been enjjoying regular Roquefort feasts ever since that battle was won. The thought of all that cheese going down a hole makes me weep. But happy birthday for this weekend anyway, even if it is Roquefort free.

At 12:18 pm, Blogger Kitchen Queen said...

Happy birthday!

At 4:56 pm, Blogger Ange said...

Happy birthday! What is it about foodblogging & Taureans, its also Sarahs bday & mine on the weekend too? And of course I am looking fwd to celebrations full of decadent food & drink - no one else can understand why I get so excited about the thought of it all - YUM, love birthdays as they offer the perfect excuse to over indulge ones senses - Enjoy

At 5:07 pm, Blogger DAVE BONES said...

here is a scientific study of two guys taking Fly Agarics. Mine didn't work like this, apparently cos they were end of season. I lost a lot to maggots too.

At 5:39 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi Reb, looks like Will won the battle, not the war. Yeah, I'm crying too. Thanks for the wishes.

Hi kitchen queen and thank-you.

Hi Ange, we Taureans certainly know how to have a good time, it's just in the blood. Thanks for the wishes.

Hi dave bones, glad your still alive to tell the tale. Maybe fry the maggots up in garlic butter, that might do the trick ;-)

At 6:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday N. Saw a copy of a cookbook written by the Bombers, each player showing off his (obviously not hers) gastronomic favourite. Thought about getting it for you, but then I also thought, do these guys actually know how to cook? Then I thought, no way, at least not as well as you. So I declined getting it despite its novelty value. Expect something else, (not foi grae). Cheers, Gregory

At 1:31 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've had a lot of nonsense in Ireland with unpasteurised cheese as well. Seems like the authorities are finally easing up though, thank God!

At 8:40 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi greg, I'd be happy if the Bombers won a few games, that would be a nice present.

Hi kieran, the same authorities that happily allow us to buy cigarettes.

At 2:21 pm, Blogger greenwood blogger said...

Happy Birthday!

At 10:57 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi habanero suz, thanks!


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