Do you remember the first time that you got addicted to something? I know memory can be a bit blurry, and shit, with age, everything starts to fade. Sometimes it's even hard to discern if a memory is, in fact, your own or just from a re-run of 90210 or Six Feet Under. The thing about addiction—whether it's sex- or food-based—is that it's all about chemicals. The all-knowing and completely factual Wikipedia defines addiction as "a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It goes on to say a bunch more stuff, but that stimuli—that "reward"—is chemicals flooding your brain, telling you that whatever it is you "need" and "get" is "good."
And at the center of addiction for many cheese lovers is Meredith Dairy's Marinated Australian Feta, the crack rock of the cheese world. I kid you not. As a cheesemonger, I have had grown-ass women and men offer some pretty desperate acts for a small tub of this white wonder. Educated, well-dressed, posh-seeming gents have literally turned into regressed puddles of whimpering weakness when confronted with the fact that "the feta" is temporarily out of stock.
So what is this crazy thing that makes dignified humans act like that?
Meredith Dairy is situated in the town of Meredith, about 100 kilometers west of Melbourne. The 3,500-plus-acre land practices sustainable agriculture with a diverse use of land protection in addition to growing non-GMO vegetation. The herds of 2,500 sheep and 2,500 goats are rotated throughout the property to eat in order to give the land time to re-grow and heal after each feasting. The goats are sectioned off into three herds who rotate in pregnancy, so there is quality milk year-round. The marinated feta is, in fact, a super fresh, pure goat's milk cloud that is "cured" in garlic-infused olive oil with fresh pepper, thyme, and spices. The rich and golden oil gently penetrates the supple white cubes of creamy goodness, and it's very hard to not get overtly pornographic here. The cubes that run about an inch-and-a-half squared quiver in the pool of slick gold, waiting for the chance to coat your tongue, oozing slowly down your throat, are delicious.
It's cheese, after all. And it's from Australia! So it's really hard to not think of it as some sort of sexual narcotic. From an island of ex-convicts who are all rugged and handsome (women included), there is a special sensuality that comes with the first bite—a high if you will—that you will always strive to find again, like a shirtless Mel Gibson pre-The Man Without a Face. The old, outdated dictionary might define addiction as "a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)," but I won't judge you when I find you huddled in the doorway of a cheese shop before it opens, cradling and rocking yourself into a passive moment until you can get your hands on the oily, gooey, seductive lover known as Australian marinated feta.