Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Overcome

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.

12 comments:

kikas_head said...

May I ask where you bought the sourdough? Baguette or sliced? Was it sour like in San Francisco, or just slightly sour? (not like it matters--I would likely buy it either way)

mtan said...

Hi kikas_head, I bought it at Mickey's Deli along Jupiter street. It has a nice tang to it but not overly sour. I'm thinking of saving a bit to make my own sourdough starter too!

Katrina said...

I don't understand how brie or camembert could stink. Is there something else added to it to produce that smell, or is the cheese aged longer than usual?

I miss Mickey's (actually, L'Artizan's) bread! I still haven't eaten at their restaurant, must go soon. And I didn't know you could use cooked bread as a starter, I thought you had to use dough?

ChichaJo said...

I haven't been to Mickey's yet...let's go! :)

That cheese thing sounds good M! The only stinky thing I still can't bear is durian...but cheese is something else! Although I do understand how some can find it too stinky. I had some aged gruyere which I kept for a year in my fridge, eating a little at a time...I asked our helper to cut me some and she looked at me like she was going to cry and finally whispered, "Hindi ko na kaya jo...amoy t**" Zoiks! I guess that said it all! Hahaha! :)

mtan said...

OMG Joey! LOL, yes, that does indeed say it all. Let's have lunch at Mickey's soon, they have a good vegie pasta. And you can take a whiff of the obatza.
Katrina, sorry, I had this idea I could use the bread for my starter but when I read the recipe it was the leftover dough I need. Oh well, got to eat up my bread then!

ChichaJo said...

M -- yes, let's have lunch there maybe next week? Speaking of starter I am so determined to get on with the no-knead one of these days!

And wait...you have a puppy??? Aaawww! :)

Katrina said...

Joey, HAHAHAHA!!! The poor girl, she had probably been gagging for months but couldn't bring herself to tell you for fear you'd be insulted and angry at her! ;-)

You can keep cheese for a year in the fridge??? My cheese gets moldy and scary-stinky if I don't finish it in about a month. I learned my lesson the hard way not to have many kinds of cheese at the same time because they go bad before we can eat it all. I've had to throw away some good cheese. :-(

Yes, lunch at Mickey's next week! :-D I've heard good things about their sausages and pastas. And L'Artizan's bread is just wonderful.

kikas_head said...

Sweet! Thanks for the info! I will check them out!!

mtan said...

Great! You guys choose a day, I'm free any weekday. Should be finished with my sourdough loaf by then, so will need a refill.

ChichaJo said...

M/Katrina -- sent you guys an email about Mickey's!

Katrina -- I did! It was gruyere...I don't think that would work for a softer cheese...actually, I don't think I should be doing it with any cheese but that particular one was just soooo good the longer it sat :)

kikas_head said...

I just wanted to tell you, THANK YOU for the info about Mickey's. We went there today and after our lunch of some awesome sausages, we took home a ton of bread. I loved both their baguette as well as the sourdough. While the deli was great, the attached bakery blew me away. Loved, loved, loved it!!

mtan said...

Hi Kikas, that's great! Happy eating!

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