I was asked yesterday how it was going, settling back into London. I had to confess that it took remarkably little time to get back into the swing of London life. It’s busy, expensive and the transport system is frustratingly crowded but, there’s loads to do and see and the food is getting better and better all the time.
One of the seemingly unavoidable aspects of living in London seems to be the presence of mice - they’re all over the place and seem to affect most houses at some point or other.
So it was without too much surprise that found myself face-to-face with a mouse in the kitchen yesterday evening (before clumsily chasing it around the kitchen like something out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon). Our kitchen is pretty clean, and we keep our food up high having had problems before, but hey, mice happen...
As I was laying out the traps, I was reminded of two things.
First was the amazing video for Nolan’s cheddar – not a cheese that features significantly (if at all) in my life but I do like the advert.
Second, I remembered back when I was in the caves and had been sent out to the Savoie on the weekly trip to collect cheeses maturing in the caves. We had set out at midnight to make sure that the cheese was back in time to be put away by the day shift, meaning that our last farm on the trip coincided with breakfast at about 7am.
The warm farm kitchen was packed with family, employees and the neighbours who had come down from the mountains to drop off some of their cheese to us. It was a typical farm breakfast: thick black coffee, strange pappy French cake-things in their individual plastic wrappings, homemade charcuterie and of course, cheese.
The cheese on the table, smallish at about 1.5kg, showed some interesting marks, it had been gnawed by mice - turns out that a mouse had got into the ageing room and had a go at one of the cheeses. Of course, it’s unthinkable to sell a cheese that a mouse has chewed, so they kept those for themselves.
Naturally this became a topic of conversation and I was impressed to find out that in taste tests, the nibbled cheeses were also the ones that humans would consider to be the best – showing that there’s not so much of a difference between us after all. I’m not sure if there’s truth in it, but I love the story.
Mice are pests and spreaders of disease and they absolutely need to be removed, particularly from areas of food prep and storage. That said, it’s hard to hate on a serious cheese connoisseur.