[lit-ideas] Sunday Story

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2011 09:18:34 -0700

The mountain people who make Etivaz cheese proved wonderfully generous.  They 
offered us all things sweet and rich and fat.  High Chateau d'Oex--try 
pronouncing that--where M.C. Escher spent time, the day begins with sugar'd 
cereal and cream so thick it has to be spooned.  It's like eating meringues for 

They make coffee, but the traditional drink is very sweet tea, flavored with 
herbs and cooked over an open fire.  I've no idea what their dental bills are 
like, but they're not fat people; when you work from dawn to dusk, your body 
makes little attempt to store calories. 

I gave her a painting, my usual clumsy work.  The wife told me of an artist who 
would knock on the door of the chalet to buy cheese, cream, eggs.  One day she 
asked to see what he'd done.  Because what she saw didn't look like a 
photograph, she naively asked whether the painting was naive. The artist took 
umbrage.  Probably wasn't Escher.  I said she could call my work anything she 

Making cheese over a wood fire at an elevation where you sometimes get a 
dusting of snow in July, the people have views...also views.  "Woods," the 
father said, "must be managed like women; if you aren't careful, they go wild." 

All five daughters married before they reached twenty five.  It is the son who 
will inherit.

Before breakfast every day there was a reading.  On Bastille Day the theme was, 
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."  While these are fine notions, God is many 
times more important.

A visiting Canadian described how GPS has changed the way they do everything on 
his farm, and how cows are kept inside all day because otherwise the milk 
"tastes grassy."  Swiss cows still exit the byre with bells around their necks, 
chickens roam the meadow but the poor pigs are kept in a dark hut their whole 
lives through.  

They make great sausage. 

Scientists somehow measured flavors in versions of the cheese made at the lower 
elevations, at the middle elevations and those elevations reached only in high 
summer.  As cows move up the hill and their diet comes to include flowers and 
new kinds of plant, flavors multiply exponentially.  If you were you buy 
straight from the caves therefore, you might specify a cheese made in July or 

To see this all in person, just call.  They've all got cells.

David Ritchie,
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