Culture clash, part 2
(We have a couple of hours to kill in the Singapore Airport while waiting for our next flight, and they conveniently have free internet access...)
Readjustment to life in the States after three years in Switzerland
By LOUISA KAMPS
When I moved back to Wisconsin, my home state, two years ago, I couldn't help saluting the first huge sign I saw, just over the Illinois-Wisconsin border, for cheese curds -- those squiggly, squeaky chunks of young cheddar we learn to love early here in America's Dairyland. Right along the Interstate to Milwaukee, there's a cluster of cheese-curd, porn and firecracker stores that has always made me wonder about the guy who would indulge in all three; but driving a distance to score curds alone -- well, that makes sense to almost any Wisconsinite.
On field trips to cheese factories when we were kids, my schoolmates and I peered into vats of bright orange cheese-to-be as dairymen in coveralls explained that curds were simply cheddar in its freshest state, separated from whey and salted but not yet pressed into shapes for aging. They squeal, most volubly within a day of their making, we learned, because their binding proteins are still superelastic, like new rubber bands. Gnawing on sample curds on the bus ride home, I marveled at their sound: balloons trying to neck.
In this artisanal age, when plain and simple mass-produced cheese is falling from favor, even in Wisconsin, it is reassuring that locals remain loyal to cheese curds. Sure, there's oohing and ahing at farmers' markets here over pricey organic chevre made by earnest newcomers to the cheese trade. But the fast action is still at the stalls, manned by farm boys in feed caps, selling curds and curds alone for three bucks a bag. It's not postmodern appreciation for a down-home and, frankly, homely food; it's the nicest kind of regional pride. A young friend from Los Angeles whose father grew up in Wisconsin came to visit this summer, and when he told me he'd tried cheese curds for the first time, I asked the inevitable. ''They squeaked like heck,'' he replied, narrowing his eyes to emphasize the sheer weirdness of the experience. ''And not just a little, but, like, 'a-squeak-a-squeak-a-squeak' with each bite.'' As Wisconsinites love to say, Atta boy!
Louisa Kamps is a contributing writer for Elle magazine.
October 12, 2004
BUSH, KERRY ALLOWED TO CARRY WEAPONS IN FINAL DEBATE
Potentially Fatal Showdown in Tempe
As President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry prepare for their final debate tonight in Tempe, Arizona, the Debate Steering Committee has rewritten the ground rules for the televised showdown, allowing both men to carry concealed weapons with them onstage.
"We've heard the criticism that the debates have been too choreographed and controlled," said Jean Stovall, a spokesperson for the committee. "Hopefully, the promise that gunfire could break out at any moment will go a long way toward changing that perception."
Although the national television ratings for the second debate slid precipitously from the first one, Ms. Stovall denied that the introduction of concealed weapons is designed to "goose" the ratings of the third installment.
"This is all about giving two men who despise each other very, very much the means by which they can slay each other," Ms. Stovall said. "If that results in higher ratings, well, that's just gravy."
Both candidates took time out of their busy campaign schedules today to select weapons to carry onstage with them in the third debate, Mr. Bush choosing a Smith and Wesson six-shooter and Mr. Kerry opting for a combat knife from his tour of duty in Vietnam.
"I expect a lively discussion of the issues tomorrow night," said Mr. Kerry, brandishing the gleaming six-inch blade for reporters. "But if that bastard gets up in my grille, I'm going to cut him."
In other campaign news, President Bush toured areas devastated by Hurricane Ivan, and Sen. Kerry toured areas devastated by President Bush.