Thursday, September 29, 2005


As we enter (at least for us Jews) the Penitential Season, I have a confession to make.

I am a cheese-o-holic.

I love the stuff. I am guilty of eating far more cheese than my body appreciates. Hard, soft, mellow, or stinky, I am always willing to Behold the Power of Cheese. Sometimes I push things too far, as evidenced by some of my Pungent Adventures. But cheese doesn’t have to smell like ass to be good.

Once upon a time, an Unknown Visionary thought up the idea of combining Molten Cheese with a complementary Breadstuff. Whoever it was, that person should have a statue erected to his or her Genius and Eternal Memory.

For that combination is indeed genius. Together, cheese and bread combine to make the Perfect Food. The cheese provides protein, the bread carbohydrate; more importantly, the proteins the bread does provide contain amino acids that complement those in the cheese, filling in the gaps. Melting the cheese adds additional flavor dimensions, catapulting the simple Ploughman’s Lunch into the ethereal realms of Pizza and related delights.

Well, the Italians may have their Pizza (the old-timers used to call it Apizza, pronounced Abeetz’) and the French their Pissaladière, but the recipe that follows is for a peculiarly British spin on Molten-Cheese-with-Bread, and it’s worth a try – if only for the fact that your dinner guests will piss themselves laughing about the ridiculous name:

Rinktum Ditty
(Tomato Cheddar Sauce on Toast)

This version of Welsh rabbit, popular in early New England, was probably brought to America from Cheshire, home of invisible cats and fine cheese. Unlike the classic Welsh rabbit (or rarebit), it contains tomato juice in lieu of beer. You can whip this up in 45 minutes or less.

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup tomato juice
1 tbsp medium-dry Sherry, or to taste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp English-style dry mustard
1¼ cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 slices buttered toast, quartered
1 hard-boiled large egg, chopped fine

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over moderately low heat, add the flour, and cook down, whisking, for two minutes to make a light roux. Whisk in the tomato juice, the Sherry, the sugar, and the mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking, and simmer it for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the Cheddar gradually whilst whisking constantly, and heat the mixture over low heat, still whisking, until the cheese is melted. Divide the toast quarters between two plates, spoon the hot sauce over ’em, and sprinkle each serving with the finely-chopped egg.

This is good washed down with a nice India pale ale. Enjoy.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson Fedora to The Two Fat Ladies, One Of Whom Is Currently Dead, Probably From Eating Too Much Cheese.]

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