Goat Cheese Is Heinous. Don’t Argue With Me.
A version of this column appeared in The Virginian-Pilot in September of 2012.
Update: Google “I hate goat cheese” and you get 481,000 hits instead of 21,000.
For years, I thought there was nothing in the world I'd ever dislike more than Jimmy Carter.
And then I tasted goat cheese.
My first encounter with that vile food fad was at a dinner party several years ago. In that instant, when the putrid dairy product hit my taste buds, the misery of odd-even gas lines, the Olympics boycott and a 12 percent mortgage on a two-bedroom cracker box in Northern Virginia were all but forgotten.
I suddenly knew that I had never experienced anything as horrifying as the flavor of goat cheese. Haggis, by comparison, is delicious.
"What's wrong with these grits?" I gasped to my dinner party partner as I discreetly spat a masticated wad of shrimp and grits into my napkin and began gargling with chardonnay.
"Nothing's wrong with them," he whispered. "It's goat cheese."
Since that awful introduction to goat cheese - or chÃ¨vre, as they say in France - the offensive ingredient has turned up in the most unexpected places, ruining some of my favorite foods: pizza, ice cream and even potato salad.
Last Saturday, I was invited to a football game lunch in Charlottesville. I took a big dollop of innocent-looking spud salad only to be assaulted by the repulsive taste of you know what. Why would you do something like that to a beloved American dish?
Desperate, I tried to cleanse my palate with a paper napkin.
They say tomato juice can remove the stubborn essence of skunk, but there is nothing that erases the aftertaste of goat. Certainly not a napkin. It took a touchdown on the Cavaliers' first possession to finally banish that flavor.
Look, I admit to a pedestrian palate. I grew up in a house where Velveeta was our family cheese. I was in my 20s before I realized that spinach didn't come only in cans or that pork chops could be thicker than a quarter inch.
As a result, I'm not an adventurous eater. But my foodie friends are. And these accomplished cooks have developed a fondness for goat, which they hide in almost everything.
They have no idea how much I loathe the stuff. Until now, I guess. Sorry, guys. But I've been pushing it around my plate long enough.
I was beginning to think I was the only one suffering from this food aversion. But on a whim, I Googled "I hate goat cheese."
Guess what? 21,000 hits.
There are blogs, websites and even a Facebook page run by goat-cheese-haters. People like me - and you, perhaps - who can't believe that anyone could enjoy the taste of something so repugnant.
At least one Internet expert suggested that those of us who gag at the thought of goat cheese are actually "supertasters" - afflicted with too many goaty receptors on our tongues, or something like that.
Whatever the reason, I smiled as I read descriptions from my goat-cheese-hating brethren who called the ubiquitous cheese "gamey," "muttony" and “sour."
One quipped that goat cheese tastes exactly like "Wilford Brimley's navel.”
I was tempted to chime in with something like: Goat cheese is to food as Jimmy Carter is to presidents.
But I decided that wouldn't be fair to the man who's done so much good work since he left office.
While Carter's presidency was hard to swallow - especially for those of us trying to buy our first homes - the peanut farmer from Georgia has grown more palatable with time.
That will never happen with a certain cheese.