Trust Your Taste 005

Clothbound Cheddar and Old Limitations

Cheese ~ Storytelling ~ 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

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

Collage by Anne-Marie Pietersma

You may think you’ve had cheddar- but have you tried Cabot Clothbound Cheddar? If you haven’t- it’s a collaboration between Cabot (which you probably recognize from your local grocery store), and their Vermont neighbor Jasper Hill Farms who I talked about in the first newsletter.

You can find Cabot’s standard block cheddars most places and they’re consistently delicious, versatile, and snackable- but Cabot Clothbound is no ordinary cheddar. It’s more similar in style to an English clothbound cheddar and is delightfully savory, brothy, and earthy- especially the closer you get to the rind. It’s a great option for a cheeseboard to get less-adventurous eaters to take a baby-step outside their known tastes. Just familiar enough to try it, but different enough to maybe get excited about trying something else new!

My favorite late summer treat is tomato toast: some great sourdough (She Wolf Bakery and Crème are my bi-coastal local favorites), a generous amount of butter, and sliced tomatoes with flake salt. But my new favorite might be subbing the salt (and butter if you want, but I’ll never tell you to cut butter from a snack) for a slice of cheddar. It’s perfect. Try it before the tomatoes are gone!

Something True: A truth about myself

Not Taking the Extra Photo

I will always find my light. And I will always sneeze as soon as I find it. Photo by Ronald Pietersma

Here’s the truth.

For almost as long as I’ve loved theatre and food, I’ve loved photography. It has been a huge part of my life, and I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it, so I’ll probably write about it a decent amount in future newsletters.

I’ve had some incredible mentors, one of them being Jay Maisel. My father and I took a workshop with him when I was 16, and it completely changed my life. Spending a whole week getting feedback and practicing capturing light, color, and gesture in New York City? A dream. That workshop formed me as a photographer, and it made me a purist about cropping in-camera (that means when you’re taking a photograph, you frame it exactly as you want the result to be- none of this shoot wide and crop-in later business). Jay was adamant about it and I completely agreed with him. We had all switched over from film to digital, but this was 2008 and we were all very anti-photoshop/editing of any kind at the time.

However- I took this to the extreme, and this lead to about four years of travel and experiences where almost all of my photos are close-ups, and many are abstract views or angles of every day objects. They’re cool photos, because that was my goal at the time. But the big bummer is, when I go back to look at them- especially photos on family vacations- I have no idea where I am. I don’t remember what trip it was, what we were doing that day, even what country we were in! And yes, I recognize I could’ve been way better at labeling my memory cards. I want to look back through memories, but it feels like I’m looking through an old portfolio instead.

Grass in a concrete structure? I think? It looks big? I think?

Up close and personal with a…building? Probably?

A moody lone pinecone. Where? No clue.

I spent all my time behind a camera looking at shapes and textures and trying to capture a moment in time, that I wasn’t actually experiencing the moment I was in (which lead me to become quite bitter towards photography for a while, but I’ll save that for another post). The color and light were there- but very little gesture. Few signs of life. No wide shots, and very few people. I was creating photographs, but without any context. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I do love context, even if they’re breadcrumbs.

Someone PLEASE make a workshop, or write a book, or form an indie improv team called “Breadcrumbs of Context”. I give it to you freely.

But instead of saying “Wow what a waste of four years. I barely know where these photos were taken”, I’m learning to say “Wow what a cool group of photos. I needed to shoot like that in order to realize I like knowing the setting of a shot-just to have it, even if it’s not a “good photo”.

I was upset at my former self for not taking the time to take more photographs- but maybe I didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe that was my taste then, and now it’s changed.

I started with a film camera, where you only have so many exposures per roll- but I was shooting digital at this point, so I didn’t have the same limitations or anxieties about “wasting a shot” on film…so why didn’t I take that extra shot? Because of one thing I was taught and then took to the extreme all by myself for no reason? Because I didn’t have time? Because “I will totally remember all of this later”? The limitations were gone, but I was still operating as if they were there.

Is there an area of your life where you actually have more freedom than you realize? Where old anxieties or patterns might be holding you back? I know I have a few. And y’know- that’s okay.

And in times where we get so focused on the details, we can do ourselves a disservice if we don’t take the time to zoom out every once in a while.

But to really hammer this mishmash of metaphors into you (and me), if you’re shooting digital and still acting like you’re shooting film- go ahead and take the extra photo. Write the thank you note. Call them again. Ask for clarification one more time. Stay for one more song. Why not? Give yourself the permission! Maybe even permission to try a new cheddar.

…and maybe make sure to label your memory boxes, and date the top of your journal- future you will be grateful.

Farm to Fable: How food shows up in storytelling 

SHUCKED on Broadway

Photo by the New York Times

Corn has had quite the year: viral tiktoks, sold out home decor, and yes- a Broadway musical. If you have the chance- please go see it. Every single cast member is at least a quadruple threat- actor, singer, dancer, and COMEDIAN. There’s comedy gold on that stage, as gold as the stalks of corn they praise. I saw this with my farming parents who, at first, were worried it would be a musical by city people that patronizes and stereotypes an agricultural lifestyle, but they LOVED it.

Of course it’s about corn, and includes every corn pun you could ever think of- and then some, but (at least to me) it’s really about home. What, where, or who defines “home” will always be a subject for artistic introspection and investigation, and this musical highlights how integral food can be in that definition.

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 “Poster for a musical starring cheese, corn, and tomatoes”…

All I have to say is WHAT THE POUNK IS THIS?? Enjoy your nightmares.