Over the years, I have always been mesmerised by the rind of cheeses. Thousands of microscopic organisms, all unknowingly working to one objective which is to ‘protect the paste’. When I first learnt about the flora of rinds, I couldn’t help but imagine these tiny protectors waging an ever-evolving war against good and bad bacteria. Now, my view is a little different. Balance. Ying and Yang. The dance of these communities working together to survive their own surface environmental changes.
You can learn a lot about watching, smelling and tasting rinds. For me, it’s a perfect way to understand where the cheese grew old. For example, the pretty pattern that Geotichum leaves on a Chilcote Brick, the musty, powdery, velvety rind on a St. Nectaire that always instantly transports me back to Brigette’s farm in the hills of the Auvergne or the unmistakable oily waxy rind underneath a freshly disrobed Westcombe.
For all these cheese surfaces are almost like reading a Poker face, for they are tells which may hold the first clues of what your taste buds may experience beneath.