There is nothing more middle class than cheese. Once solely the preserve of the class, good schools, houses, wine, and even France have all been placed within reach of the common man by scholarships, five percent mortgages, blossom hill, and cheap ferries. Quality cheese, though, is reserved exclusively for those who can afford to serve it alongside £10 savoury biscuits and atop £50 serving slates. House parties that once rang with conversations of interest rates and red runs in Chamonix now hum with talk of small artisan producers found in Italian caves and whether fig juice is a good substitute for rennet. The words 'Cathedral' and 'City' dare not be breathed.
Having been invited to one of these bastions of middle class values - the Wine and Cheese House Warming - I knew that to blend in seamlessly with the discerning crowd I would need two things: a bottle of my local corner shop's finest port and two quality cheeses from those good folks at Long Clawson Dairy*.
Although upstaged by a glamorous cheese 'n' pineapple hedgehog, the cheeses were a critical success. The perfect distraction from some god-awful cheap port that no-one would own up to having brought along. The confusingly named Claxstone Smooth Blue was probably the most popular, which you'd expect being a Supreme Champion at not one but two regional cheese awards. As someone who has been left scarred by the stench of festering blue cheese filling the car on long journeys back from France, the Aged Leicestershire Red was my kinda' cheese. Dry, smooth, and nutty, this was the perfect spoon for the accompanying homemade green marrow chutney.
As I grow older, I can find myself slipping further in to the middle class abyss. Gone are the days of cheese strings, Babybel, and grated 'mozzarella'. Bring on the stinking bishop!
*Disclaimer: Long Clawson Dairy provided the cheese free of charge. A good review was not required, neither was self-parodying comment on the middle class.