Read My Cheese

The Brit­ish artist Stan­ley Spen­cer once said rather rue­fully that he wished ‘people would read my pic­tures.’ A book holds the reader in its own atmo­sphere, he argued, and ‘this same absorp­tion is pos­sible in pictures.’

This may take a little leap of faith and it’s alto­gether a more mundane, pos­sibly even banal example. But I would like you to read my cheese. Cheese is one of the old­est foods in the world, dat­ing back to before the Roman Empire. This dome of creamy deli­cious­ness holds everything within it that is good about food and cook­ing. And I’ve just made it for the first time. So thrilled was I when it emerged from the fridge that I needed to invent a new word for thrilled. Fro­ma­gic­ated seemed about right.

Ancient alchem­ists who tried to turn base metals into gold were crazy. I can’t under­stand why they weren’t sat­is­fied turn­ing yoghurt alchem­ic­ally into cheese. If I were to read my price­less cheese I would say that it is majestic, simple, exquis­ite, nour­ish­ing, sat­is­fy­ing, clever, ancient, unas­sum­ing, atmo­spheric, exotic, com­ical and his­toric. And the great thing about read­ing cheese is that you can eat it afterwards.

Fresh Cream Cheese

500g authen­tic Greek yoghurt

Three quar­ters tea­spoon fine sea salt

Stir the salt into the yoghurt, then turn the mix­ture into a small sieve lined with muslin. Allow the yoghurt to drip into a bowl in the fridge overnight and the next morn­ing you will have the most exquis­ite, creamy cheese as if by magic. That’s it. And this is what I did with it next.….

Home-Made Cheese, Ham and Peach Bruschetta

Toast slices of firm, chewy white bread. Spread thickly with cream cheese, lay a slice of Italian dry-cured, smoked ham on top, fol­lowed by thin slices of ripe peach and a hand­ful of rocket leaves. I’ve just bought black­berry vin­egar online from Womers­ley and once I’d reduced it a little in a pan, I spooned it over the bruschetta. The salt­i­ness of the cheese and ham, com­bined with the sweet, fruity peaches and vin­egar were sen­sa­tional. The cheese would also work well with my black gar­lic and beet­root bruschetta.

If you make this and then read your cheese, let me know what it says.