Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.

Enough people ask me about my .sig that I thought it would be worthwhile telling the story here once and for all.

In the countryside near where I live nestles Idylwilde Farms, a gourmet outpost in this suburban wilderness. You may know of it. The cheese case at Idlewylde rivals the best in the Boston area. One favorite of mine, which I've seen for sale in only a few other places (the first was Balducci's in Greenwich Village), is a French cheese called Morbier. It's delivered to the retailer in a large wheel; Idylwilde shrink-wraps consumer-sized chunks of it. The cheese is a waxy-looking deep yellowish color, and each wrapped chunk has an irregular grey streak running down its middle. Idylwilde has seen fit to explain this peculiarity on their applied label: "Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk." I find the phrase most evocative. One pictures a smoldering volcano looming over the placid French country town of Morbier. Exactly at noon the local farmers consult their watches and stroke their chins as the volcano spews smoke and ash into the air. The ash settles on the open vats of ripening cheese...

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