I’d been going to school in England for a couple weeks before my friends and I noticed that all of the cheese was white. Here we were, in the land where Cheddar was invented, and all the cheese we encountered was as pasty and pallid as the English people themselves. I know that orange cheddar cheese is dyed (the reason, I don’t know), but I was unsettled by the fact that I kept ordering cheese sandwiches, and they always had only white cheese on them. It tasted different, just slightly. Maybe it’s the whole “you eat with your eyes first” thing that FoodChannel espouses, and my eyes were put off by the unappealing color of my sandwich.

We went to London one afternoon, and ended up at the Hard Rock Café. My brother collects shot glasses from Hard Rocks (I don’t get it, but if I ever say anything about it he tells me to fuck off and quit being an asshole), so I promised to pick one up. We decided that if we had to go to a Hard Rock, we might as well get a shot and shot glass. So we bellied up to the bar, ordered some shots, and saw a server bringing out a plate of nachos for another table.

The nachos were covered, coated, with bright, unnaturally orange cheese, dotted with happy-looking jalepenos, bright red salsa, and black olives. It was the most colorful meal we’d seen in weeks. So we stayed at the Hard Rock, ordered 2 plates of nachos, and got very drunk.

The Hard Rock Café originated in London and was celebrating its 25th anniversary at the time. We met this waitress who had worked there all 25 years, and now travels around signing autographs and posing for pictures. That doesn’t mean that our doing this wasn’t lame, but slightly less than if we had been in any other city. It was cultural; we learned a lot.

I haven’t seen any orange cheddar here in Rhode Island. There are more varieties of cheddar here than I’ve ever seen in my life: Vermont, New York, New York Sharp, New York Extra Sharp, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Sharp, and more that I can’t remember—all white. The only orange cheese I’ve seen is the shredded kind. There is no orange brick cheese at any Stop N Shop I’ve been to.

Also, I’m familiar with New York Sharp Cheddar, but Vermont? What does that mean? How is it different? What is Vermont known for besides Ben and Jerry’s and Howard Dean? I’ve been experimenting, and I have a brick of Vermont in my fridge right now, but I haven’t tried it yet.

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