Get Elbows Deep in Sheep Cheese


My cousin/cugina, Amaya, and I went on an Italian adventure we dubbed, “Two Broads Go Abroad.” For over two months we traveled all around Italia. One day we did a group wine-and-cheese tour of Tuscany. One of our stops was a Pecorino farm. During a cheese-making demonstration, the fromager asked if anyone in our tour group would like to come up in front and actually make cheese ourselves, so I raised my hand. Duh. I didn’t have to think twice. It was a no-brainer, Of course, I wanna stick my hands into a vat of hot cheese.

I wanna know what that feels like.

To prep, two other volunteers and I were lead outside to wash our hands from a spigot. No soap. No towel, no nothing, just wash from a gray pipe sticking out of the earth, wipe our hands on our jeans and we were good-to-go. I imagined the people one day eating this cheese made with my germy hands.

We mixed the thick, hot, gooey cheese with our bare arms. It was so thick and steaming it wasn’t easy to mix. Ignoring the temperature as best I could, I broke a sweat following the direction of the master cheese-maker with his Popeye forearms.

I remember once, for a class assignment, I had to make a list of my core values. Near the very top was the phrase, carpe diem. Even though that’s true, I don’t always seize the day, I don’t always jump at every opportunity. There are times I let fear get in my way. But I do think Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice is wise, and an awfully good target: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Cheese doesn’t scare me, but I did feel the heat that day. Would I be all in, would I commit to the process even though I thought I might get a little burnt?

They say if you can’t stand the heat, get out of Pecorino kitchen. I say you can stand more than you think you can.

A little tenacious engine once said, “I think I can, I think I can.”

I just wrote a book (The Little Love That Could) with a title that’s a spin on the classic children’s story, The Little Engine That Could, the engine challenged with pulling the train over the mountain. Other engines were unwilling to try, but this little engine decided to give it a go. I believe willingness + tenacity is a powerful combination. Seize the cheese.

I also think good cheese ain’t cheap.

And I say, a good rule of thumb (and forearm) is to get elbows deep.