I’ve been contemplating the kinds of foods one might consider unctuous, and keep coming down to a couple. For starters, pate, which I don’t experience in any regular way, and cheese. For me, a good slice of ripe cheese imbues the mouth with a salty fullness that ratchets up the swoon factor—you know, that eye rolling, shoulder wiggling, smile-while-you-groan reaction that comes when you taste something at the peak of ripeness or prepared to the pinnacle of deliciousness? Chocolate can do it too, and yes, I’d call the most decadent, rich-with-whole-cream chocolate bread pudding I make for special occasions—unctuous.
Unctuous is one of the words hand painted as a border on the walls of the new cheese shop I discovered by accident the other day, along with the words: ripe, runny, smooth, salty, pungent, moist, young, complex and crumbly. I had started the engine in the car after a quick errand before realizing that the downtown parking space I’d scored in a neighboring burb was smack in front of a recent addition. Once I grasped that the storefront featured food, well, far be it for me to deny myself the pleasure of walking in. I turned the engine off.
Inside, immaculate tile floors, creamy yellow walls and a polished harvest table invited me to step further. A cupboard filled with artisan spreads and oils and the cheese case filled with Northeastern cheeses added to the welcoming feel. At the counter, colorful salads made with beans and fresh veggies beckoned; bowls of Nicoise olives glistened, lovely mixed pastas tempted. A chalkboard contained a short menu of made-to-order sandwiches; crusty fresh bread lay in wicker baskets against the wall. My mouth watered, but the meager contents of my wallet deemed this mission as reconnaissance only. Then, one of the owners offered me a taste of luscious cheddar and we started chatting.
I'll tell you this. When my mother realized her stories were dragging on, she used to say, “To make a short story long…” and I can feel myself doing the same thing. So let's cut to the chase. I didn’t buy anything, but the conversation with the owner took an unexpected turn.
My part-time job starts Monday.