I open a new package of St Nectaire cheese to find a curious green coloring on the top of the crust. I ask my roommate, "does this moldy part on the crust look ok to you?"
"yeah, it's fine. I mean it's not like you eat that part anyway." I take my French-girl certified cheese back and look at her quizzically.
"What? you don't eat the skin?"
"Ummm...no. do you?"
"well yeah, why not?" The eyes are bulging out of her head.
"What?! Even on Gruyère, you eat the skin on that??"
"Well...sure," I shrug. She is obligated, by French law, to instruct me otherwise.
"It's what people do, you know, in France, when the plate of cheese comes around the table. you always take the crust off before eating it!! Do you know how many people have touched that while they make the cheese??" I shake my head; I never noticed this. Or I haven't eaten enough cheese with French people.
"Do you mean to tell me you've been in France this long and you are still eating the skin on your cheese?!!!!" I'm in for a rude cultural awakening now.
"So, uh, how are you supposed to eat it?" She opens her mouth to start to explain but then she just shakes her head, grabs my cheese, and demonstrates slicing off the crust, neatly trimming off the hard bits on the three crusty sides of the rectangular slice.
"Darn. I rather liked the crust. Now my cheese is all limp and formless." I poke at the naked cheese. She is not bemused at the rude pokes I am giving France's finest dairy product.
"I mean, you can eat it if you WANT to. Wait, I have my crust from my cheese earlier today, it's in the garbage but I can get it for you!" I resist but she doesn't listen. She pulls cheese crust from the garbage can and flings it towards me and it lands on the floor.
"Here, want this?"