Cheese dreams

Some turn to drink when they lose someone. When I lost my brother I turned to cheese.

It wasn’t for comfort. It helped me to dream about him.

With cheddar, he always appeared but I had to eat a fair-sized chunk if I wanted more than an embrace at the foot of the stairs. Roquefort created too many noises and distractions: I knew he was there, but I couldn’t hear him or find him. Brie, when served hot, created gentler, more sentimental encounters but they were too sfumato to satisfy. No, it was mozzarella di bufala that did it for me. It was my cheese of choice.

On a long stay in Sicily, extended consumption – for breakfast, lunch and dinner – meant his presence became regular and real. It was then, following a loud, never-ending Sunday lunch and a huge, sopping plait of mozzarella, I dreamed the best dream I’ve ever had. We were on a small red open-air hovercraft, bumping round an arctic coast, dodging ice flow, the engine running whilst we examined rose quartz the size of breeze-blocks. We landed at an isthmus where the grass was exposed and torn by caribou. There we sat and drank tea from a Thermos flask, laughing about nothing as the late afternoon blushed with accomplishment.

Night after night, month after month I tried to get back on that hovercraft or sit with him under the setting sun. I even tried to mix my cheeses: a bit of scamorza and six baby bells; some vignotte and a hunk of double Gloucester. But it was useless. The cheese had stopped working.

Now there is nothing that can bring him back.

© Shona Main 2010

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