Trust Your Taste 003

Alp Blossom and Bob Ross

Cheese ~ Story ~ Authenticity ~ Creativity

Happy Monday! Here’s something tasty, something true, and some musings on food in storytelling to start off your week.

Something Tasty: A cheese pairing to try

Alp Blossom

Collage by Anne-Marie Pietersma

One of the most aesthetically impressive cheeses, Alp Blossom is always a STUNNER on a cheese board.

The Stats

Milk type: Cow

Style: Alpine*/ Semi-firm

Origin: Bavarian Alps

Age: ~7 months

*Alpine-style cheeses traditionally come from the Alps and are characterized by their very large wheels, and having a semi-firm to firm smooth texture with nutty notes (think Gruyere or Comté if you’ve had those before).

That gorgeous rind is made up of local Bavarian flora. To me, that is already exciting, but it’s even cooler once you know that those are all the local flowers, herbs, spices, and grasses the cows are grazing on, so the wheel is adorned with the things that give the milk (and therefore the cheese) it’s unique flavor.

Obviously they are all dried instead of fresh on the side of a mountain, but I always encourage people to try the rind, just to have the experience of eating the same things as the beautiful beings who provided the milk.

As we always say in Trust Your Taste, try it! And if you don’t like it- stop eating it!

Depending on the specific wheel and the season, the herb and flower mixture changes. Sometimes it’s more floral and sometimes the herbaceous notes take over and make it taste like a whole pizza dinner in one piece of cheese like an everlasting gobstopper.

Try it with some of your favorite fruit preserves or local honey for a sweet pairing, OR melt it over a late-summer hot dog with some caramelized onions.

I triple hot dog dare you.

Something True: A truth about myself

The Bob Ross Fort

Here’s the truth.

Most of the time, it takes me a while to fall asleep. I often have trouble quieting my racing thoughts from the day whether they are welcome or intrusive. But there is one tried and true salve to my sleep troubles- Bob Ross.

I spent most of 2020 in quarantine with my roommates Andrew and Sean who I’m lucky to call two of my best friends. In a time where everything was scary and the world as we knew it was changing every day, we turned to two things: regression and routine.

We regressed in a legendary way- we built a massive fort in our basement that ended up standing tall for two years and became a feature of the apartment. (It was actually very emotional taking it down).

The routine became that every night, we would brush our teeth, get into pjs, crawl into our little fort and watch our beloved Bob Ross as he soothed our brains and our souls by painting peaceful landscapes and assuring us in his signature calming voice that there are no mistakes- just happy accidents.

A very funny thing happens when you fall asleep to Bob Ross- the song that plays during the ending credits is SO MUCH LOUDER than the actual show, so we would always fall asleep knowing we had a guaranteed wake up call to let us know it was time to sleepy-stumble out of the fort and go to bed.

We did this almost every night for months.

Recently, my brilliant friend Wes Day got his Bob Ross teaching certification. He has been performing with Blue Man Group for 20+ years and it makes perfect sense because Blue Man and Bob Ross really have similar philosophies as I understand it: creativity is a gift we all have, creation can be a planned or spontaneous act (often both), and inspiration is everywhere.

I went to a paint and sip with Sean and my boyfriend Adam where Wes taught us how to paint a serene mountainscape and it was WILD to have something we’ve only watched for years become a very fun reality. It didn’t take us 26 minutes- it took us three hours- and it was awesome.

The experience didn’t put me to sleep- it was quite exciting, especially the way Wes weaves in his own stories and expertise into the class- but it was still soothing. Without Bob’s signature voice or the ASMR of the brushstrokes, what was it about the process that was so relaxing?

The freedom.

There’s an inherent invitation to trust yourself…one might say…to Trust Your Taste (sorry, I had to) imbedded in the Bob Ross style. It’s teaching a technique- and yes we’re all working off the same example painting, but we weren’t making copies. We choose how many mountains we wanted and how high. How many trees we wanted and how tall. We all had the same color paints but the way we mixed them was always different.

Same example, same paints, three different paintings with their own style.

Sometimes you don’t even know what your style is until it’s next to someone else’s- and sometimes that can start a comparison spiral. But we had permission and were encouraged to choose our own adventure. What if our differences in taste were celebrated? And what if we gave ourselves permission to explore and enjoy them without judgement?

So many creative pursuits are never started because “it’s already been done”. Sorry, but that simply is not possible. Forts have been made- but not like OURS. Mountains have been painted before- even in this style- but never exactly like this. Alpine-style cheeses have been made- but never with the same herd of cows with the same diet.

Could you imagine if cheeesemakers just stopped making some cheeses because “it’s been done“?? I don’t even want to think about it.

No one can do anything exactly like you. It’s impossible. No one has your hands, your life experience, your internal monologue, your neuroses, your phobias, or your voice. So make the thing.

Making stuff always has it’s ups and downs; while painting I can’t say I didn’t let comparison be the thief of a little joy. But now I can look at my happy little painting and pretend I’m in the mountains, eating alpine cheeses like Alp Blossom.

Farm to Fable: How food shows up in storytelling 

Razzles in 13 Going on 30

13 Going on 30 is an incredible movie. Ya’ll know I love a RomCom, and of course food and memory are an essential part of the storytelling.

Pro tip: If you have anyone in your life that refers to RomComs as “chick flicks” (and scoffs at them as a legit form of storytelling) but loves epics like Lord of the Rings, you can get them to watch it with you. Just tell them Andy Serkis is in it. Trust me.

If this is you: ANDY SERKIS IS IN IT

Anyway, what you need to know is Jenna (Jennifer Garner) and Matt (Mark Ruffalo) were best friends in childhood and Matt was definitely always in love with her but she just saw him as a friend. Their favorite candy was Razzles.

Through a series of wild circumstances I will not spoil, Jenna is trying to rekindle their friendship in their 30s after growing distant. The touchstone that’s used as a symbol of their former joyous and (mostly) uncomplicated friendship years later? RAZZLES.

Food is one of the most powerful and instant vehicles for nostalgia. And I bet reading this mightttt have you thinking about a candy or snack from your childhood. If you are…maybe write it down. I’d love to read about it.

Until next time,


P.S. - Sunday Scaries (yes I know it’s Monday, my WiFi was down yesterday SORRY)

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

This week the prompt was “Bob Ross eating pizza in a pillow fort.” I have so many questions I do not want the answers to. This will keep me up at night.

A claymation nightmare.

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.