A great Wisconsin cheese: Carr Valley’s Mobay, which I ate several chunks of tonight while I tried to write up a piece of mathematics I was quite confused about. The math is still muddled but the cheese is near-perfect — flavorful and complicated without being overbearing. (Not to say I don’t like overbearing cheese, but that’s another post.) Mobay combines a layer of sheep cheese with a layer of goat cheese, the two being separated by a layer of vegetable ash. Regarding the deep question posed by the posted link above, I’m pretty sure the yellow side is the sheep and the white side is the goat.

Mobay is a Wisconsin take on Morbier, a cheese from Franche-Comte which is all cow — the ash separates curds from the morning and evening milkings. Morbier is also the cheese that takes a star turn in Paul Muldoon’s poem, “The Mud Room”:

It was time, I felt sure, to unpack the Suntory
into the old fridge, to clear a space between De Rerum Natura
and Virgil’s Eclogues,
a space in which, at long last, I might unlock
the rink, so I drove another piton into an eighty-pound
bag of Sakrete and flipped the half door on the dairy cabinet
of the old Hotpoint
and happened, my love, just happened
upon the cross
section of Morbier and saw, once and for all, the precarious
blue-green, pine-ash path along which Isaac followed Abraham
to an altar lit by a seven-branched candelabrum,
the ram’s horn, the little goat whirligig
that left him all agog.

Read more about the poem in this review of Muldoon’s collection Hay by Steve. Question: was the cheese in Muldoon’s New Jersey freezer really Morbier — which has no goat and whose ash line is kind of grey-black — or Mobay, which is half goat, which has a blue-green ash line, and which I know from experience is sold in Princeton’s best cheese shop, Bon Appetit? Help me out, cheese-loving poetry critics!

(Carr Valley’s website. Official Morbier website.)

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3 thoughts on “Mobay

  1. Emmanuel Kowalski says:

    Coincidentally, we’re having a nice Wine & Cheese party tonight with a few
    participants of the conference in honor of H. Cohen. So here are my observations on the problem…

    (1) I believe “Bon Appetit” could very well also have/(or have had) Morbier available.

    (2) There’s a slight possibility of mis-labelling: the cheese could be Morbay, but the store could have labelled it Morbier for some strange reason.

    (3) The poet might have simply assumed that “Morbay” was a store-owner’s attempt at the proper “Morbier”, or a way to lead the customers to pronounce it without dreadful consequences.

    All in all, “Alive and tasty: images of French cheeses in Anglo-Saxon literature” seems like a reasonable subject for an enterprising PhD student…

  2. Daniel says:

    Where does one acquire such a cheese? I might get a piece and try it.

  3. […] semisoft cheeses 25Oct07 That’s Steven Jenkins’s magisterial Cheese Primer on Morbier. I love this book, both for its exhaustive treatment of almost every interesting cheese you can buy […]

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