Will Write for Cheese

Culture magazine is the cheese-lover’s go-to guide for all things enzymatic. It’s also a totally entertaining mag and website, with a great social presence and tons of engaging content.

Their homepage, for instance, features a sheep poking his head around the left sidebar.

Culture also held a contest last month in honor of Valentine’s Day, making a blog-based call for poetry that paid homage to the fromage.

As it happens, I actually love to bust rhymes about food — it’s one of my favorite subject matters when it comes to poetry, right next to travel and general angst.

I had something in mind as soon as I saw the blog post announcing the contest — I immediately thought of a little verse I scribbled after visiting the Sunday market in Lyon, France, while on a travel writing trip for GoNomad.com.

I love public markets, as well as flea markets, swap meets, thrift stores, yard sales, and antique fairs. All of these are hotbeds of activity and therefore great for photography and people watching (another two of my favorite things).

The Lyon market is unique in the gastronomic sense because is supplies the city’s chefs with fresh herbs, meats, cheeses, and more for their kitchens. But it has as much human nuance as every other central gathering place around the world, and the combination made the experience of navigating the market, which lines both sides of the Rhone River, stick in my mind.


That said, I submitted my poem to the contest, Tweeted to that effect, and went on with my week. I had nothing short of a gleeful, easy feeling (I paraphrase) when I received a note from Culture editor Will Fertman last week letting me know I was among the 2012 Culture Valentine’s Day Poetry Contest winners. Gasp! I won something!

I was awarded, again to my glee, a mail order prize direct from Dundee, Oregon: Briar Rose Creamery’s goat cheese and chocolate truffles. They arrived in my office on Friday afternoon, in a giant chilled box that was the envy of all of my co-workers as I paraded through the halls holding it a couple of times.

The Culture mavens proved they know their verse, too, having assigned appropriate prizes to different writers. Poems with a sweeter vibe were awarded truffles, while works that leaned toward spicier prose won a selection of Virginia Chutney Co.’s savory jams — best served with cheese.

Since my truffles arrived at my office, I was able to steal off to our in-house photo studio and shoot some photos of the bounty in the light box.

These truffles are amazingly creamy and softly decadent. The cocoa is mixed with the cheese at just the right ratio – no dousings of semi-sweet chocolate here. Just blended, mild flavors and awesomeness.

I’ve promised my BFF and self-described cheese enthusiast a truffle of her own, so watch this space for an update from A-Teen.

I’ve also added my winning poem below; the photos interspersed throughout this post (save the truffle photo session) were taken the same day. Many thanks to Culture and to Briar Rose Creamery!

The Market, April

An early morning, flanked by housekeepers and surly chefs.
The Rhone roaring, the vendors competing
a linear walk becomes a spin.

Red tomatoes, sliced, glistening in the April sun. Baguettes reaching from a straw basket. Chickens turning lazily on a squeaking spit.
Daisies, roses, wheels of cheese under glass and watchful eye; they seem to be breathing, waiting to be plucked.

Further: a man with an accordion and a creaking cart near to collapse under books. A bicycle wheel, a broken frame – barely containing a plastic-filmed print of Brigitte Bardot.

I am no match for the old women, expert with their wheeled carts and bags. I am swayed completely by florists, cheesemongers, a man with a flute.

Do they know their every Sunday is an attraction for the well-traveled
Do see they see the colors the same way as I – smell the rotisserie, regard Ms. Bardot –
Or do they return from their errands blase´, vague impressions held of cooks with fistfuls of herbs
and a foreign girl, standing alone.

-j. stevenson

4 thoughts on “Will Write for Cheese

  1. art and lemons says:

    Culture is a terrific mag, congrats on being a contest winner and I adore your market poem which hurtles me back to France and the memories of all the cheese, bread, and wine consumed. More food poems, please…


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