You might think you need to go to the grocery store to find cheese, but I have found cheese in a variety of unexpected places: books, movies, music and more. (And yes, it can get messy. Let me tell you, camembert is not something you want to find in an unexpected place.) I’ve come across so much cheese that there’s far too much for just me. So, I offer up to you this delectable platter of assorted cheesy goodness. Get your crackers ready.
- “The Big Cheese”: an expression meaning “the top banana” or “the head honcho.” (Please note that the “head cheese” means something totally different.) Here’s something I did not now about the origins of the expression “big cheese“:
This use of the word probably derived not from the word cheese, but from the Persian or Hindi word chiz, meaning a thing.
- Little Miss Muffet This nursery rhyme girl not only sits on her tuffet, but she eats her curds and whey. That’s cottage cheese, my friend.
- “The Cheese Alarm,” a song by Robyn Hitchcock. This is a song of many cheeses:
Roquefort and grueyere and slippery Brie
All of these cheeses they happen to me
- “the cheese stands alone“: a line from the song “The Farmer in the Dell”. The title of I am the Cheese, a young adult book by Robert Cormier, and also a movie based on the same, references this line of the song, and the loneliness of being cheese.
- Cheese has long been used as a bait in mousetraps, and is especially good for trying to catch cartoon mice. Recently, this cheesy bait concept has been extended to motivating office workers with the book Who Moved My Cheese. This irritating-looking parable appears to have spawned a slew of cheese parody books, at least three of which are entitled “Who Cut the Cheese?”
- The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by the illustrious Lane Smith. This picture book features, among other things less cheese-oriented, a cheesy reinterpration of the gingerbread man fairy tale. Catch it if you can.
- “Cheeses of the World Series“: Jefferson Mint’s series of hand-painted collector’s plates featuring the cheeses of the world. Available only as an extra on the Austin Powers DVD. This is funniest deleted scene I can remember. It’s part of the overview that Number Two (Robert Wagner) gives of the activities of Virtucon, the “legitmate face” of Dr. Evil’s evil empire.
- Wallace and Gromit, Grand Day Out. Wallace loves cheese. Enough to go to the moon for it. And as we all know, the moon is made of cheese. (The other W&G features also feature some cheese, at least I know that The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave do. I have yet to see The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but I would be sorely disappointed if it was cheese-free.)
- You know, there just aren’t enough movies featuring cheese. Paul Davidson, whose blog I found while doing my takehome final, offers a solution to this perennial problem by suggesting “ten movies whose plotlines would change by simply adding the word cheese to their titles.” An excellent proposition. (cf. “A Touch of Evil Cheese” and “Stand by Me Cheese”)
- The Cheese Shop sketch. In the land of the cheese, this sketch reigns supreme. John Cheese, I mean, Cleese and Michael Palin perform this legendary Monty Python gem. Hey, I was just making a joke about the John Cheese thing, but check out this slice of trivia from the John Cleese Wikipedia entry:
John Cleese was born in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England to Reginald Francis Cleese and Muriel Cross. His family’s surname was previously “Cheese”, but his father, an insurance salesman, changed his surname to “Cleese” upon joining the army in 1915.
Anyhow, the Cheese Shop Sketch features 43 kinds of cheeses. Well, the names of 43 kinds of cheeses. Whether you’re looking for Cheddar, Brie, Wensleydale or Venezuelan Beaver Cheese, you will find no better place not to buy it.