I assure you, the technical term is “stinky cheese.”
If you’re a normal person who was raised outside of Bohemia, you probably treat the word “stinky” as an adjective and employ its descriptive ability in predicating on everything from hangover-breath to foundational childhood fears concerning eating too much asparagus and smelling your “stinky pee” the next morning. Or maybe, like those children of Bohemia, the word “stinky” conjures more visceral connotations for you. Maybe “stinky” is the harbinger with which toddlers have doomed you with the knowledge that their most recent homegrown diaper-sealed production is currently underway or ready for shipment to the garbage can. In that case, “stinky” is more of a noun — one of those comic book word bubbles you can practically see floating in the air. “Stinky” becomes onomatopoeia for the experience of being nasally assaulted. In the last few days, I’ve learned this nounification of the word “stinky” goes beyond visceral interactions with dirty diapers. In fact, I’ve learned an entire people treat the word “stinky” as noun, process, and a whole way of living one’s culinary life, all at once. For Czechians, “stinky” is only one half of a dynamic duo, never to be separated from that which lends it such specific gravitas: the eating of the sacred stinky cheese.
I write to you today from Olomouc, Czechia. Formerly known as Bohemia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary, geographically known as Moravia, and now known as “that one-day stop on your way to Prague.” Olomouc is a pretty cool cat of a small city, but what really ties the knot on Olomouc’s little-known reputation is the fact that Olomouc is the only place on the face of this globe where you can A) buy B) smell and C) eat Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese. And trust me, being not-much-of-a-tourist-hotspot-yet, Olomouc is really trying to get as much mileage as it can out of this fluke of stinky cheese history in all its tourism information. Which, I assume, relies on the assumption that near-college-age travelers will be enthused at the prospect of eating stinky cheese. And not just any stinky cheese, stinky cheese renowned for its stinkiness. An entire affair in stinkiness. Seems like a doubtful self-advertising strategy to me, but hey, I’ve never stopped wearing deodorant for days and broadcasted that fact like it had just entered the public domain. Maybe being stinky works. Maybe that’s what semester #3 of college is really needing, now that I think about it.
In any case, here are the stats:
- Like a good fart, Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese is ripe. This means that it is sold and consumed after a very specific length of time, once it has reached its most potent flavor capacity.
- Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese is a semi-soft cheese, which means that, like the passengers aboard the Titanic, the longer it sits the wetter it gets.
- According to Wikipedia, the source of all cheese and non-cheese related plagiarism, Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese is “easy to recognize” because of the cheese’s “strong scent, distinctive pungent taste, and yellowish color.” To us laymen who may not be so acquainted with cheesery, feel free to find the first quote an insult and the second quote repulsive and an insult — as if all cheese isn’t some shade of yellow.
- Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese is actually produced in the small Czechian town of Loštice a few miles northwest of Olomouc, but being more powerful, Olomouc explored the wonders of exploitation and became the city who got all the money and credit, making Olomouc the Jeff Bezos of stinky cheese.
- Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese was first produced as peasant food, ensuring that no Czechian noble ladies would fall in love with any of the commoners due to widespread chronic cases of halitosis.
- In case you’re interested in what the European Union was up to before Britain decided to say “Sayonara!”, 2006 saw the omnipotent EU exercise its vast powers in naming Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese a “Protected Geographical Indicator,” finally giving all of those people who visited the Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese museum in Loštice a reason to brag about their foresight online.
- Much like your boyfriend who lifts, Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese has a 0.6% fat content, is raised on cow’s milk, and weighs 20-30 grams per piece.
Needless to say, Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese is a hallmark of Moravian and Bohemian culture that no good reviewer can pass up. In the words of Ron Burgundy and the plagiarizing Kanye West, Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese is “like, kind of a big deal.”
So, now that you and I are acquainted with our subject matter and its unfathomable importance to the culture I have stumbled upon, let’s get on to my review.
For a long time, like decades long, there was a singular shop that sold Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese in Olomouc, and only Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese. Of course, upon my arrival I learned the very disappointing news that said shop is now closed forever, and the only source of Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese is through the middle man of local restaurants who *gasp* prepare the cheese without serving it in its rawest form.
Conceding that I wouldn’t be blessed enough to consume Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese in its raw, circular, suffocating form, I settled. I settled on visiting traditional Czech restaurant Svatováclavský Pivovar that now serves Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese as a fixed item on their rotating menu.
It just so happened that the restaurant is also a microbrewery that gets off on showing its customers all the large brass tanks of homemade beer it has. As an advertising strategy I’d say it was effective, because I managed to have two glasses of said homemade beer before fostering the courage to order a plate of “Fried Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese and mashed potatoes” sic written in Czech, of course. According to my editor Jessica who is uncannily wise in the ways of stinky cheese, serving delicacy cheese melted alongside mashed potatoes is some kind of high culinary statement. Which makes sense, as Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese was the most expensive item on the menu and ordering it made the waitress raise her eyebrows at me like I was Versace’s killer and had just walked into Versace Fifth Avenue wearing a Hermés shirt and Target brand sneakers.
Culinary statement or no, I was a foreigner determined to clean my plate of fried Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese and mashed potatoes until all you could see was a white plate and whatever vomit missed my target on the floor and landed on the plate.
Certainly not a stinky cheese guy. But I had a duty and curiosity to fulfill. Not to mention I hadn’t eaten breakfast and was inexpressibly hungry.
I was nervous, okay? I’m not a cheese guy. Definitely not an artisanal cheese guy. Certainly not a stinky cheese guy. But I had a duty and curiosity to fulfill. Not to mention I hadn’t eaten breakfast and was inexpressibly hungry.
When the waitress walked out of the swinging half-doors with my plate in hand, she made eye contact with me as if to say “I’m sorry. I apologize for the pain you must go through. You are brave, but you are stupid. Alas, all foreigners who dare meet the Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese tete a tete deserve such judgement, silly fool.” I read all of that in her eyes, the whole time hearing John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates” play in the background of my head as the waitress brought my plate to my table in slow-motion. Headphones on, volume up, click the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlYCxbBZUCY.
Like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs, the plate landed with ferocity on my table cloth — three putrid yellow slices of fried Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese grabbed me by the chin and shoved two gnarled fingers up my nostrils, curling and twisting toward my brain, causing my eyeballs to pop out and roll off the table, my tongue to shrivel up like a raisin and my hair to turn grey and fall off like timid little snowflakes not sure if it’s actually winter yet.
I picked up my knife and fork.
Stabbed the cheese like an all-too-eager Freddy Krueger.
And lifted a bite to my mouth. Chewed. Swallowed.
You know that trick when you’re a kid where you would hold your breath and use psychic powers to pinch your nose so that you couldn’t taste the broccoli and could actually swallow it at dinner?
DAMNIT I USED MY PSYCHIC POWERS I screeched to myself. I couldn’t taste my first bite at all. Too busy not breathing.
Issue the mashed potato chaser.
Yeah. I wasn’t much a fan of Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese. God bless the Czech’s for having no taste buds and genetically losing the ability to smell. It must be doing them lots of favors.
I did finish my plate, and I did grow to grudgingly like the cheese — more as a challenge and cultural experience than as a food item. I’d encourage you to taste it, it’s certainly a once-in-an-exploitative-little-Czechian-city experience.
You’d think frying the cheese is some kind of concession to the smell, like a We’ll burn the smell out of you! kind of thing. It’s not. It just melts the cheese and brings the smell out like drunk Patriots fans at a Superbowl game, providing only a crunch and nothing more.
Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese has a museum all to itself. It has a town’s livelihood all to itself. It has another town petty enough to want all the credit for Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese. It has EU certified “Geographical Indicator” status and 0.6% fat content. Clearly, this cheese is just as powerful as Regina George and Jesus. And while Olomouc Tvarůžky stinky cheese did not bring me to find Cheeses, maybe it will be enough to show you the whey.
Any reasonable person would say bringing six books on a seven week backpacking trip through Hungary, Poland, and Czechia is just asking for a heavier backpack. Fortunately, Luke is a not-very-reasonable person. *clears throat pretentiously* He’d like you to know that six books on hand are the minimum necessary for literary inspiration — He plans on starting the Next Great American novel during his time overseas. (Send apologies to his lower back around week four). When not actively being overambitious about his future career as a *mumbles incoherently*, Luke overcommitts himself to theater, journalism, and debate. Readers should expect Luke’s journey to feature constant references to Shakespeare and David Foster Wallace, an obsession with the cardinal directions, existential angst due to the lack of Thai food in central Europe, and a perfectly European (non)-platonic love for biking. Luke will return to Harvard in the fall as a much more tan (read: sunburnt) sophomore concentrating in Social Studies and Philosophy.