Trust Your Taste 009

Old Witch and Spooky vs. Scary

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

Old Witch

I first tried Old Witch a few weeks ago at Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery in Pasadena, CA.

The stats: Cows milk ~ unpasteurized ~ Swiss ~ Semi-firm ~ Aged 9 months-ish

I tried it because it was new to me, and honestly, I liked the name and label and was curious…

…but this is NOT a gimmicky Halloween cheese.

Old Witch is an out-of-this-world alpine style cheese great for spooky gatherings- and literally anything else any time of year.

The monger at Agnes was kind enough to give my partner and I a sample of it with some raspberry preserves and it was pretty incredible. I haven’t melted it on anything yet but thinking about this cheese over some roasted potatoes is making me very hungry.

If you’re on the east coast, I know my friends at Olsson’s Fine Foods always carry it and it’s younger paprika-rubbed sister Red Witch.

I wasn’t planning on featuring all alpine-style cheeses in October…but I think that’s what is happening now. Stay tuned for two more!

Something True: A truth about myself

Spooky vs. Scary

This is the best photo anyone will ever get of me on a haunted hayride. And it’s a still from a very silly video.

Here’s the truth.

I love spooky things, I hate scary things. That is my personal taste. And I am finally owning that.

A haunted forest? Black drippy candles that mysteriously never go out? Witches and potions? Autumnal rituals to honor the departed? COOL.

Watching something that was specifically engineered to make me look over my shoulder in the dark, lose sleep, and jump scare me into needing a new pair of pants? NOT COOL.

Last week I wrote about the importance of asking for what you want/need.

And this might be about the same thing… but expressing your needs in the form of saying “No.”

Recently I visited some brilliant friends in Ottawa at Saunders Farm. This time of year is their haunting season filled with mazes, pumpkins, games, food, their own cider (and their new mind-blowing apple cider donuts) - all the delicious fall fun you could ask for.

They ALSO have a haunted hayride, creepy costumed characters wandering around the farm, and different themed haunted houses. People come from all over Canada- and the world- to go into these haunts.

I have a sensitive nervous system, and as I understand the thrill and dopamine rush others love about being scared, filling my mind with horrifying images is not something that is good for me.

My own mind can be a pretty terrifying haunted house, and I’m finding my way through it DAILY.

I had shame about it for a while- that not liking scary things meant I…

Wasn’t fun? Didn’t push myself? Refused to get out of my comfort zone? Was ultimately just LAME?

All not true, but of course, the thoughts are there.

I went on the haunted hayride AND walked through one of the haunted houses (which I hadn’t planned on) because it was still light out, and I was clutching the arm of my dear friend Angela Saunders who made the dang thing.

She told me there was a cozy library room I would really appreciate and great prop work and the actors were really cool this year- ok fine. Sold.

So I tried to view it as experiencing a great feat of hers. Instead of running for my life, I could marvel at the creative mind that built this haunt while hopefully not giving her arm bruises (BECAUSE IT’S VERY SCARY SHE DID A GREAT JOB).

I survived, and though I almost lost my voice, I was able to appreciate all the monstrous amounts of work and creativity that went into something that isn’t my cup of tea. Then everyone tried to bring me to the Cirque Macabre haunt….

I said NO WAY to that next haunt. NOPE. A big ol’ no from me.

And it felt great.

I grabbed a cider, wandered through the farm store, and waited for everyone at the end knowing it wasn’t lame of me to say no- it was the right choice for me.

Farm to Fable: How food shows up in storytelling 

Witches Brew in Macbeth

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), The Three Witches or The Weird Sisters, ca. 1785, oil on canvas, 24 ¾ x 30 ¼ in. The Huntington Library

The Scottish Play starts with thunder, lightning, and three witches. In Act 4, they are over a boiling cauldron reciting:

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

If you wanted to make your own witches brew, you could take all the bolded ingredients literally- but many sources and theories point out that these most likely refer to herbalists’ nicknames for different plants.

It is commonly regarded that Eye of Newt is… Mustard seed! So next time you add mustard seed to a recipe, say you’re adding “eye of newt” and it’ll probably be a lot more fun.

In many types of spooky or scary storytelling, there isn’t a ton of food mentioned- but plenty of things are eaten. What makes it scary is often the eating of something you aren’t “supposed to” eat.

And yet…it’s all a matter of perspective, right?

If we take this into the real world, someone in the U.S. might look at fish eyeballs or calves brains or chicken feet or intestine as “gross” or scary, because at some point someone told them you aren’t “supposed” to eat those.

But in other parts of the world they are necessities, or delicacies, or just normal every day parts of the gastronomic landscape.

Maybe what is actually scary is just the unknown.

OoooOOoooooOoo! Spooky!

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 “The three witches in Macbeth standing over a cauldron making cheese.”

I guess witches are supposed to be scary…