Ay, I couldn't resist. Ate my marang last night, with gusto of course. Broke open the rind, and ate the tidbits over my kitchen sink while the cat and the new puppy sniffed at each other around my feet.
However, it wasn't the only malodorous item on my dinner plate. I wrote a couple of years ago about a cheese dish I had in Germany called "obatza" (also spelled obatzda, obatzer). It was introduced to me at my first authentic Munich beerhall (Hofbrauhaus if I'm not mistaken), along with my first platter of white sausage, and a hefty stein of beer. From the outset, obatza looks like a mushy, orange plop. For pinoys, think cheese pimiento spread. However, it's not just a mash of shredded cheddar, mayo and red peppers. The recipe I was given was to take some brie or camembert, cream it with butter, add paprika for the color and serve it with thinly sliced red onions and some german pretzels.
Last Sunday, lunch with friends at a local deli found me checking out the deli offerings behind the counter, and what do I spy with my almond shaped eyes? A container of orangy mash with a sign "Obatzer, P190/100g". Holy cow. So I check with the deli man first, what cheese did they use with this? Brie, he says. The flavor is a bit more pungent than I remember, but it is obatza. I bought a small container and finally opened it last night. Since I also bought a good loaf of sourdough, I tore a chunk of the bread and spread a thin line of the cheese on it. Wow. Talk about stonk! This made me wonder if the durian had lost its crown as the king of smelliness. But the taste was lovely, albeit dangerous to hypertensives - way too salty. It must be due to the addition of pickles, since the other additives like the caraway seeds couldn't make it so salty. I would probably add more butter to this to reduce the saltiness if I ever buy it again.
Eating this meal, sharing stomach space with the western cheese smells mixed with eastern indigenous fruit carrying it's own smell, made me wonder what someone from Germany would think of the marang, and how an Asian would consider the obatza. I know of folks from both sides who'd point to each offending item and say "how could you eat that?", "it smells of dirty socks", "it stinks". I felt like I was bridging a multi-cultural gap last night, a bit of cultural fusion running through me. I waved aside the virtual naysayers and screwed up noses, and fed some of the cheese to my cat. She bolted.