From 'Double Gloucester and the Question of Provenance' by Fan Dumont, Cuisine Desk
The big cheese wheels of Gloucestershire, England, have long been famed for their flavor, aroma, and down-hill acceleration. Indeed, the Double Gloucester Down Hill Cheese Chase has become a mainstay for the local community for many years. From Cooper’s Hill to Deadman’s Cheddar, the world championship calendar takes international competitors around the English countryside. No hill or kneecap is safe.
While this event is widely renowned for its sportsmanship, wacky costumes, and fatality rate, few know that the cheese wheels – that most vital component of the chase – undergoes a grueling process of certification. Many believe that a wheel’s first time down a grassy slope is during the event at Cooper’s Hill, but this is not true. The wheels are thoroughly tested and certified before they can even bare the name “Double Gloucester”.
I travelled to Cleeve Cloud, the highest hill in the Cotswolds, to find out more about the process. There, a group of professional cheese rollers were braving the cold and the rain.
“Wobblers and jumpers – those are the ones you got to look out for,” said Mr X.
“Or square ones,” said Mrs X. The cheese rollers nodded solemnly. “We had a couple of rectangular ones slip through one year. It was just sad, really.”
“How did they slip through?” I asked.
Mr Y hissed through his teeth. “Couple years ago…was like the wild west out here. No regulations, no Terroir 14 forms, nothing. You could get a block of feta through.”
“Or wedges,” said Mr X grimacing.
“All you had to do was fill the right turophile’s hand with a few grams of pule and you were in,” said Mrs X.
They assured me that those lawless days were behind them. Now there was nothing but honest, certified cheese.
I walked with them to the top of the hill. According to legend, the Romans took advantage of the angle of Cleeve Cloud to perfect their own caseiculture. It is a rich cultural heritage that the cheese rollers are proud of.
“Gives the cheese extra flavor,” said Mr Y. “History.”
I watched them set up their tape measures, yard sticks, cheese wire, and various lumps of Double Gloucester. Scientific tools and rind-to-revolution ratios aside, I came to understand the real secret of the process. It is easy to miss – especially when you get lost in the technical jargon of cheese making – but it was there. It was in the laughter of the testers, the way they helped each other up, the way they cheered when they got a good roll.
The modern take on The Pickwick Papers with a magical realism twist returns for a second volume!
The Bright Report – a fictional journal that brings you absurd stories with a human element – presents five strange stories. In this difficult second offering, the editor, Mr Balding, selected five stories pertaining to unusual items. Are they cursed? Unlucky? Or is something else going on?
In Volume 2 of the Bright Report you will find the following stories:
Murky Dishwater, an unusual rock band with an unusual sound – what is their secret?
Cheese rolling is a dangerous business, but did you know that the cheese goes through several ‘hill tests’ before it can carry the name of Double Gloucester?
An apartment full of unusual creatures asserts their right to squat where they want to.
An unusual writing implement is said to bring the wielder great literary success, but at what cost?
Mr Carmichael washes up on a strange island where the residents sort themselves into the Likins and the Knopes.