The Evils of Cheese

I’ve been working pretty hard lately (as evidenced by my recent posts) and I was due for a break. Ever perceptive, Helene convinced me to step out of Shanghai and take a day off on Friday – and a little day trip to Suzhou.

My, what a difference a day off makes. We spent the day strolling around Suzhou, and Helene managed to squeeze in some shopping as well. By 10 PM, we were back home, refreshed and ready for a good night’s sleep.

As with every trip we ever took together, Helene brought along on the train enough snacks to feed a small army. And as the train rolled out of Shanghai, we were already doing the very Chinese thing of snacking on the train.

Things took a turn for the decidedly un-Chinese, however, when Helene pulled out a block of Edam (Cheddar-like) cheese from her bag. Now, if you’ve ever wondered what the Chinese, who like to eat stinky tofu, find disgusting, look no further than your typical block of Cheddar. Many Chinese find the smell simply repulsive.

Well, true enough, as soon as we took a bite of our cheese, the lady in front of me curled up her lip and prickled her nose in a perfect expression of disgust. She kept said expression until I quickly wolfed down the cheese with a mix of amusement and embarrassment. To the right of Helene, a mother gave us evil glances, but seemed otherwise intent on trying to ignore us. Keep in mind this was only a small block of fresh Edam… God forbid that we would have taken out a piece of blue cheese!

So, for those of you in Montreal or elsewhere in America and Europe, there’s your trick. If you ever feel the need to complain if a Chinese person takes out shredded squid or shrimp crackers on the bus, stay nice… and munch on a good piece of aged Camembert!

About Daniel Roy

Daniel is a writer, backpack foodie, slow traveler, and endurance runner. He is the author of the upcoming book, "The Way of Slow Travel: A Hands-On Guide to the Best Travel of Your Life."

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