By James Lileks

I’ve never understood why nations with great cheese don’t have better armies. Right now to my left I have a plate that contains six chunks of Stravecchoio Grana Padano, each wrapped in a gossamer-thin scarf of prosciutto. Any Italian worth his mettle would take one bite, contemplate the perfection this combination represents, and decide that his nation should – no, must muster the forces required to repulse anyone who would take such cheese from his countrymen. Cheese this fine would cause armies to cross the Alps to have it; surely they demand armies sufficient to protect it.

I mean, this is good cheese.

I met it for the first time Friday afternoon at the grocery store. One of the elderly demonstration ladies had set out some padano and prosciutto; I took a bite and swooned on the spot. I am not one of those epicures who will spend his ducats in search of a new sensation that will gladhand a few obscure tastebuds in the outlands of his tongue. I do not regard the variegated nature of the cheeseworld as a field I need to master. But this. This was sublimity. It was like meeting the mayor and the blacksmith at the same time – the taste was smooth and subtle, and simultaneously coarse and cheery. I had to have it. For the first time in my life, I had met a cheese I could not put off for later.

(Many thanks to my lovely friend, Grettir, for the “heads up.”)