Besides the peeling off string segments of "mozzarella", sprinkling "parmesan" on pasta from that all too familiar green cardboard canister, or squirting "cheez" from an aerosol can directly into my mouth, I never really ate cheese growing up. Needless to say, my experience with "cheese," or at least with food products that claim the name, have been limited and rather unrefined. It wasn't until recent years that I finally discovered an appreciation for cheese - real, authentic, cultured cheese that I can describe without having to use double-qoutes.
My voyage of cheese appreciation began with baby steps. It was in my second year of college in a campy theme restaurant that I had my first taste of brie, a wheel of it, baked in pastry dough and topped with an apple chutney. Baby steps continued with occasional noshing on gouda and fresh mozzarella and ventures into the cheese section of the dairy aisles, though staying mostly on the area gentler on the nose.
Stinky and aged cheeses would take a back seat to mild and fresh cheeses until two years ago, when I moved to New York. With cheese shops like Murray's and East Village Cheese, cheesy fast-food joints like Grilled Cheese NYC, and a slew of casual and fine dining restaurants that have entire sections of their menus dedicated to cheese and cheese flights, it's hard to avoid becoming a turophileliving in New York.