Trust Your Taste 002

Shabby Shoe and Singing for Grandma

Cheese ~ Story ~ Authenticity ~ Creativity

Happy Sunday! Here’s something tasty, something true, and some musings on food in storytelling to ponder over your favorite Sunday Treat.

Something Tasty: A cheese pairing to try

Shabby Shoe

Wisconsin has a hot new farmstead creamery, and the cheese world is PUMPED about their goat cheeses. Since 2020, Blakesville Creamery has been making cheese by hand, and Shabby Shoe is their new take on the French classic Chabichou. I (like many other cheese educators) have definitely taught Chabichou in classes and said “think shabby shoe” to help Americans with pronunciation, so the cheeky name is a very fun inside joke for the cheese world (that you now know as well, welcome to the fam).

Chabichou is a goats milk cheese from the Poitou region of France, and is characterized by it’s cylindrical shape and Geotricum Candidum rind. Geotricum Candidum is a culture that develops grooves and wrinkles in the rind of the cheese to look kind of like a brain. It’s very cool.

I tried it for the first time at the Cheesemongers Invitational this summer, and it is bright and citrusy with a velvety texture and fun minerality- so it’s earthy and fruity. Score. If you like fresh goat logs and want to try something new-this is your cheese! I recently tried it with some lemon curd and it was like a next-level lemon cheesecake that was so good I did a victory lap around my apartment- but it’s also great to pair with whatever summer stone fruit is most ripe near you.

I hope you try something this week that also makes you do a victory lap.

Something True: A truth about myself

Singing for Grandma

Performing at The O’Neill Theatre Center. I think I had an anxiety attack right before this.

Here’s the truth.

Shabby Shoe made me think of my grandma for a few reasons:

  1. Goat cheese visually stands out because the paste is stark white, and my grandmother always stood out because her hair was stark white from a fairly young age.

  2. Yes, the beautiful wrinkled outside that showed the age and character of both

  3. I love to sing because my dad loves to sing, and he got his voice from my grandma. She was an amazing singer, and when she was younger, she was going to sing with the Glen Miller Band and travel. But, as so many stories of this time go, my grandpa went off to war- so she stayed home, worked in a shoe shop, and never got to live her dreams.

I am a good singer, but I’ve never been a confident singer. I have never possessed the quality of being consistently excited to sing in front of people solo. Choirs? Yes- I can hold a real crunchy Eric Whitacre harmony till the cows come home. Musical theatre ensembles? YES- I WILL sing out, Louise! Singing solo as a character in a show was even okay…but singing as myself? Biiiiiig no thank you. I often would (and sometimes still do) get this lump in my throat that affects my voice in some weird way so I sound different than I do when I’m singing alone. So I do that- then hear it…wonder “who IS that” then get self-conscious and it’s all downhill from there.

Here’s why:

Even if it’s a fluffy pop song, the act of singing is really vulnerable. In my early 20’s in conservatory, I was still trying to figure out what my metaphorical voice was- and my literal voice suffered as a direct result of that. I was not learning how to be vulnerable in front of people. But I did learn how to have that signature musical theatre sound, and what songs I should sing to audition for certain shows. I was told what people I should try to emulate and whose careers I should try to follow. I learned how to be a “blank slate” so I could “be anything”.

Essentially, I lost my voice (but not literally).

When I was training, I loved to sing and dance, but I LOVED to act. Musical theatre auditioning places most of it’s emphasis on singing first, which I understood, but it was really frustrating. The singing was nothing without the acting to me. I wanted to focus on acting and comedy- in or out of musical theatre- but I was being encouraged to sing more. And a little part of me wanted to for my grandmother.

“She didn’t get to sing professionally, and I’m getting all these great opportunities to sing more…So I should do it.” How many times have we all heard the story of the person that did something to honor a family member, even if it didn’t feel completely aligned?

At some point I had to make the decision to prioritize other forms of storytelling. Those different forms allowed me to learn how to be vulnerable in a very public way (thank you improv). Don’t get me wrong- I still sing, and I love to do it. But I had to realize that I could sing, and it didn’t have to be my entire career or identity. And I wasn’t letting her down by not pursuing it full time.

What I thought was important: My grandma didn’t get to sing professionally, so I need to sing professionally

What’s actually important: She didn’t get to do what she loved to do, so she would want me to do what I love to do.

And I still get to hear her third harmony in my head when I sing with my dad.

Farm to Fable: How food shows up in storytelling 

Love and Basketball and Twinkies

Reflecting on my Tomboy identity in last week’s newsletter warranted a rewatch of one of my favorite movies, Love and Basketball. It’s one of those movies that makes your heart ache in almost every way possible and was wildly validating for me growing up as a girl who saw a main character who loved basketball and her independence AND Omar Epps (who can blame her).

In my opinion, one of the first scenes in the movie masterfully sets up the dynamic between our two childhood sweethearts/frenemies Monica and Quincy- and yes, of course it involves food. Here’s how it goes down:

They are riding their bikes to elementary school

Q: You wanna be my girl?

M: What do I have to do?

Q: I guess…play ball and ride to school together. And when you’re mad at me I gotta get you flowers

M: But I don’t like flowers

Q: Oh

M: How about twinkies? My mom won’t ever buy them.

Q: Ok

M: Ok



Q: I think we ought to kiss now.

Transactional playground romance will always be funny to me. And I can talk about this scene way past the point of anyone else being interested about how and why I think it’s brilliant, so let’s just focus on the food.

Monica KNOWS WHAT SHE LIKES. And she likes Twinkies. I get it, my mom wouldn’t let me have them either (which ultimately, I am grateful for, but it’s pretty difficult to not want a personal-sized cake with frosting on the inside). So, Twinkies in this context are not only a treat, but they are also forbidden*, which always makes things interesting.

*I wrote a whole paper on forbidden foods once, so this will be explored in another newsletter.

She rejects the hypothetical offering of flowers, and instead asks for something she actually does like. Twinkies. To a people-pleasing tomboy who loves snacks (me) this was REVOLUTIONARY. She asked for something she wanted. She made that part of herself known- and he didn’t run away.

What if we were just up front about what we like and don’t like (while freeing ourselves and others to change our minds)? And trust that the right people will relish knowing more about us?

A big part of the Trust Your Taste Workshop for me is that I believe there is a great intimacy in knowing what people like and dislike. I get a lot of joy out of knowing how someone takes their coffee, or their go-to In N’ Out order (can you tell I’m from California?) or the ingredient they always ask to be “on the side” at a restaurant. I also think it’s vital to have that intimacy with ourselves.

A great way to do that is to slow down while we’re trying something new- maybe Shabby Shoe- and ask “do I like this?”

Until next time,


P.S. - Sunday Scaries

A terrifying AI image to help us all rest knowing AI bots could never replace a real human artist:

This week the prompt was “Old shoes singing into a microphone on a stage with an audience of cheese.” What is happening in this picture? Who knows. But I’m scared.

Anne-Marie Pietersma is a bi-coastal actor, writer, comedian, and cheese educator who believes 90% of the worlds problems would go away if everyone did high school theatre, went to therapy, and knew where their food came from.