French Cheese: Confessions of a Casein Addict

Put That in Your Pipe and Smoke It!

March 2, 2016By David JaggardC'est Ironique!
If cheese is as addictive as crack, then French cheese must be as addictive as crack, alcohol, marijuana, chocolate and sex all combined. Which sounds like a fun afternoon. (Screen shot of story from the LA Times.)

All of us have our own passions and peeves — things we love and things we hate. Personally, I hate it when the ill-conceived suffix “oholic” (or its even-iller-conceived fraternal twin “aholic”) is used to contrive a word for the victim of an addiction: “chocoholic,” “workaholic,” “sexaholic,” “airoholic,” etc.

Whenever I see a new such coinage I cringe. And then I seek comfort in my passions: chocolate, work, sex, air… and cheese.

I love cheese. In particular, I love French cheese. In even-more-particular, I love soft, smelly, breath-wrecking French cheese.

Fermented moo juice (and baa juice) is, no kidding, one of the reasons I live in France, in my top 10 along with the wine, the scenery, the art museums and the 1/66,000,000th of the population who graciously consented to marry me.

Which is why I have been especially dismayed to see a surge in the use of the term “cheeseaholic” in recent weeks. The reason for this is the release, followed by the sensationalist treatment in the press and gleeful exaggeration on Facebook, of a study conducted at the University of Michigan that, according to sensationaholics, supposedly reveals that cheese is as addictive as hard drugs.

What the researchers actually point out is that cheese contains a high concentration of the milk protein casein, which breaks down during digestion into opiates called casomorphins, which in turn trigger the receptors in the brain that are linked to addiction. (Hey — they ain’t called “opiates” for nuttin’.)

Of course, it’s something of a stretch to go from there to claiming that Velveeta is as habit-forming as Peruvian flake. But as a cheese lover, and a runny, odoriferous French cheese lover at that, I get the connection.

Given the choice between a creamy, tongue-caressing clump of curds and any of the other well-known “aholisms,” possibly including alcohol and definitely including work, I would go with the Gruyère. That is, presuming that sex is not an option.

In light of the study’s revelation, and in a selfless attempt to help others deal with their dependency, I have decided to revise the famous concept of the “12 Step Program” specifically for fromage fiends like myself.

By which I mean Brie freaks who have no intention of trying to control their habit and intend to spend the rest of their lives on a more or less permanent casein high.

Note: The following section is by no means intended to ridicule Alcoholics Anonymous or any similar program. I have deep admiration for anyone who can overcome a real addiction. That said, here are…

The C’est Ironique Cheese Addict’s 12 Steps to Recovery (of More Cheese)

1. Admit that you, by yourself, are powerless over cheese. You also need a knife.

2. Believe in a power greater than what you have now — somewhere out there is a cheese that’s even more potently malodorous than anything you’ve ever smeared on bread. If only you could find it.

3. Make a decision to turn your life over to God as you understand Him, by which you understand Casomorphin.

4. Make a searching and fearless inventory of your moral shortcomings. Or, since that’s a drag, of the nearest cheese shop.

5. Admit to yourself, to Casomorphin and to another person, namely the cheese shop clerk, the exact nature of your uncontrolled cravings. Along with how much of each one you want.

6. Be fully ready to have Casomorphin remove any compunctions you might have about asking to sample dozens of different cheeses before buying.

7. Humbly beseech Casomorphin to keep delivering His opiate high without ruining your cholesterol levels or waistline.

8. Make a list of all the persons you have harmed in the past by breathing on them right after a big bite of gorgonzola.

9. Make direct amends to those people by inviting them over for fondue.

10. Continue to take regular personal inventories of your cheese stock and, when it falls low, promptly admit it. And (duh!) go buy more.

11. Seek through prayer (for more grocery money) and meditation (on the locations of various cheese shops) to improve, and indeed maximize, your communion with Casomorphin.

12. Having had a spiritual, or, failing that, gustatory awakening as the result of these steps, carry this message, and a cheese knife, everywhere you go.

© 2016 Paris Update


An album of David Jaggard’s comic compositions is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, for purchase (whole or track by track) on iTunes and Amazon, and on every other music downloading service in the known universe, under the title “Totally Unrelated.”

Note to readers: David Jaggard’s e-book Quorum of One: Satire 1998-2011 is available from Amazon as well as iTunes, iBookstore, Nook, Reader Store, Kobo, Copia and many other distributors.

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