It can be sweet, creamy, sharp, marble, or blue.
It can be paired with wines from around the world, or thrown between two pieces of bread and grilled.
And it is this dietary staple created from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, and possibly other animals that Maple Ridge writer and environmentalist Jack Emberly wrote a story around that was published in an Anthology called FEAST by the Coquitlam Writers Group.
Emberly wrote The Man Who Loved Cheese based on an encounter he had with an unusual British retiree.
“He was good with computers and offered to help me with a problem I had,” explained Emberly.
His British friend knew Emberly was a journalist and wanted to share a story with him.
“As a reporter and columnist I’ve been blessed with what is called a good ‘nose for news’ and as a writer of short fiction, I knew I’d have a good short story – one that was quirky and ironic, funny at times, mind-boggling, but completely believable if you know anything about how government works or doesn’t work,” said Emberly.
He called his friend Winston in the book – in honour of the former Prime Minister of Britain – not using his real name “to protect the innocent.”
The story begins in the hallway of a Vancouver apartment building where a man’s plastic bag has suddenly come apart and he is picking up all the variations of cheese that have fallen to the ground. Bill, the storyteller, helps the man round up his groceries, noticing his penchant for cheese. Winston invites Bill to meet him at the small party management is going to throw when they sell all the units in the apartment building.
When the event takes place, Bill learns about the eccentricities of his new friend’s life, most notably his stint in the illicit drug trade, while Winston shares with him the eccentricities of various cheeses.
Whenever Emberly is in Bellingham, U.S., he picks up Tillimuck cheddar and other cheeses to bring home.
However, researching cheese was the most time consuming for Emberly.
He got help from his British friends in the Coquitlam Writers Group while doing his research, who had him add Stilton to his list because, they said, it was the best blue cheese money could buy and a favourite of the English.
And Emberly was determined to get the English accent correct, sitting down with two British friends for three hours, pouring through the finished story making sure the expressions and words reflected the accent accurately.
Emberly is hoping to hold a live reading of his story some time after the pandemic. He had one scheduled at the Pitt Meadows Public Library just as the pandemic hit and it had to be cancelled.
FEAST An Anthology of Short Stories on the Subject of Food was published by Kydala Publishing Inc. in March 2020.
It is available for sale on Amazon.