I love cheese, but the rest of my family is lactose intolerant. This, in conjunction with a, shall we say not so stellar cholesterol count, has regrettably meant that my consumption of cheese has declined precipitously lately. This has predictably led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth, as I have been forced into eating things like rice cheese, soy cheese, and "cheeses" made from things like nuts or (god forbid) coconut, none of which bear much actual resemblance to or taste like, y'know, cheese. It's tragic: I have to eat this stuff in the name of family unity, while simultaneously sneaking a cube of gorgonzola every so often just to maintain my sanity.
Those that follow me on Twitter know I like beer. I'm pretty darned fond of coffee, too. But if you asked me what one food item I would have the most trouble giving up, even temporarily, it's cheese. It's amazing that something so simple – milk plus bacteria plus time – can come out so good and with such an astounding variety of flavors, textures, and aromas.
So why not make a theme out of it? Yes, said I, answering my own question, I shall. However, I'm staying away from the REALLY obscure stuff. There's hundreds of varieties of cheese from all over the world, and a lot of it you can't find at your local Kroger's. (And some, like Stinking Bishop, that you wouldn't want to.) So we'll stick to some more basic varieties.
My cheese takes are my own, and I embrace them fully. I'd tell you to share what cheeses are your favorites, and caution that I've certainly left out/over-ranked/under-ranked your favorite cheese, but you'll just yell at me and tell me I'm an idiot no matter what I do, so, whatever. Bomb's away. Here are the player ratings to Tottenham's draw at Everton to the theme of cheese.
Five Stars: Roquefort
As Michael Caley said in the writer's chat room today, "If 5-star ain't stinky, the list's rinky dinky." Of all the main classification of cheeses, I think I like blue veined cheeses the best. And of the blue veined cheese family, roquefort is the king. Sharp, salty, musty, funky, and crumbly, it's everything a blue cheese should be, and then some. It was the favorite cheese of Charlemagne. It's connected to Pliny the Elder. It's funny: I hate mushrooms and generally dislike most fungi on principle, but I will eat this mold-infused sheep's milk cheese all day, any day. With a spoon.
Toby Alderweireld: Hot damn. Toby was on fire on Sunday. Not only did he pretty much keep Romelu Lukaku in his pocket the entire match, but he was one of the few points of stability in that frenetic final 20 minutes of play when things looked to be teetering out of control. Plus he had that long pass from behind the centerline to Dele Alli for the goal. The other players in this category were fantastic, but Toby was next level. I'd rank him seven stars if I could.
Jan Vertonghen: On any other day, Jan would get man of the match for his defensive performance against Everton. He was fantastic to Toby's sublime. I don't have any criticisms of Jan per se, it's just that his partner was playing off his chain, which made him look pedestrian. (He wasn't; he was wonderful.)
Dele Alli: This kid is nineteen. NINETEEN. Christ on a pogo stick.
Four 1/2 Stars: Gouda
I love me some gouda. Even the supermarket variety is nutty, creamy, and slightly fruity, a little reminiscent of emmental. Gouda is a great young (try making a mac and cheese with it), but it transforms when aged, turning into something nearly crystalline, sweet, and almost like butterscotch. Fantastic. Just don't eat the smoked gouda. Smoked gouda is bad and you should feel bad.
Hugo Lloris: Thanks to the defensive efforts of Janby Vertonghweireld and Eric Dier, Hugo didn't have a whole lot to do defensively, but when he was called upon (after Tom Carroll's poor clearance) he stepped up and saved the match. That one save was world-class, but he also had good distribution from the back, including a gorgeous 60-yard pass to Erik Lamela.
Four Stars: Aged Cheddar
I originally had this ranked higher. I was shouted down. It was suggested I put this at three stars. I disagreed. I love cheddar, the sharper and older, the better. Is it sexy? Nah. Is it popular? Undoubtedly. I don't care. Aged cheddar, preferably cloth wrapped and aged over two years, is f**king delicious, adding a salty, tangy, piquancy to everything it touches. But I'm known more for getting it out of the fridge and just taking a massive bite out of the wedge.
Christian Eriksen: I thought it was telling that Spurs' offense, heretofore pretty dominant, trailed off immediately after Christian was subbed off. Nobody else was looking for that killer through ball or trying as hard to set up Harry Kane. The downturn probably had as much to do with Everton subbing on Besic and Deulofeu, but Christian's absence displayed how important he is to how this offense runs, even when he's "not at his best" (I thought he was great).
Eric Dier: Eric had an outstanding defensive performance against Lukaku for about 70 minutes, and then the wheels kind of fell off. He looked gassed at the end and made some pretty dumb errors (for him) in the closing stretches of the match, but it's not enough to really dock him significantly in my mind.
Three Stars: Mozzarella
Grocery store mozzarella is passable. Shredded, bagged mozzarella is atrocious. But if you've ever had real, honest, true fresh mozzarella, say at your local Neapolitan pizza joint (hai Skipjack), then you'll understand why I'm ranking this here. Excellent mozzarella is grassy, light, and mild, and fantastic melted, but it doesn't pass the straight-from-the-fridge test.
Tom Carroll: Oh, Tom. Rarely have I seen such a polarizing match performance from a Spurs player who isn't named Ryan Mason. Honestly, I thought Tom was pretty good: he pressed well, defended well, was trying to pass progressively. But he also made some ridiculous mistakes over the course of the match, none worse than the botched clearance that led to Besic's shot (and Hugo's save). I thought he was mostly fine. He's not Dembele, so it's unfair to hold him to that standard.
Harry Kane: Harry came close early and was unlucky not to score (thanks, post!) but this was not his best match. John Stones did a fantastic job keeping him in check, and in the second half Kane never really looked that involved. He still ran his ass off, though, and looked knackered by the end.
Erik Lamela: Another yeoman's effort from Lamela. He looked great in the press in the first half but trailed off in the second and earned another yellow. Didn't seem as involved in the offense as he usually does, but it would be unfair to say that he played poorly.
Kyle Walker: Walker wasn't bad on Sunday. Again strong going forward and gave Everton's fullbacks fits, especially in the first half. A few scary moments in defense, especially late, but the whole team apart from Jan, Toby and Hugo looked like deer on ice by that point too.
Ben Davies: A mixed bag for Ben Davies. Yes, he looked okay going forward and had that thunderous shot that ricochetted off the crossbar, but he also let Deulofeu get the better of him on several occasions.
Son Heung-Min: Sonny didn't look great when coming on, but I'm not sure it's all his fault. His shift coincided with Eriksen being taken off, which meant there was one less good playmaker to give him service. And then Nacer Chadli came on for Dele Alli and he REALLY didn't get the service. It looked like he was trying to get into good positions, but the offense was pretty dysfunctional by that point.
Two Stars: American
Why am I not ranking American cheese at one star? It barely qualifies as cheese, after all. Because those single-serving square cellophane wrapped slices have one application where they shine: on top of a burger. I can get behind American cheese on a burger. In any other application, it's cheese-flavored polymer. American cheese gives cheese a bad name.
Nacer Chadli: Nacer Chadli was on the pitch long enough that he should have at least made an impression or reminded me that he was out there. But he didn't. He was completely anonymous and added literally nothing to the attack. Did he even touch the ball? I can't remember.
One Star: Cottage
This is not cheese. It's curdled milk suitable only as a bad substitute for ricotta in lasagna, an inexplicable addition to jello salad, and to foist off as a low-calorie filler option for dieters who don't know any better. Cottage cheese is the worst.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as terrible as cottage cheese.