Most cheesemongers are big fans of consumption in every sense of the word. We like to indulge in the delicacies of life: great food, good drinks, mind-altering substances, and animalistic mating rituals.
We're the people of the senses. We inhale the soily funk of cheese rinds. We close our eyes to let flinty pieces of sheep's milk tommes melt on our tongues. Our hands are in the earth by way of cheese. All this makes for one great life, if not a little over-stimulating and exhausting at times. And although the cheese world has its little enclaves of community, there are not a lot of cheesemonger-focused shindigs where we can all get silly sans the judgmental eyes of the "other" non-dairy types.
A few years back, a mystical man named Adam Moskowitz decided to create a party that celebrates the mongers in all their hedonistic glory. What began as an excuse to get really shitfaced and flirt with cohorts has evolved into a somewhat respectable event known as the Cheesemonger Invitational.
So what exactly happens at this ritualistic celebration? To start, there is the competition. Most mongers I know have fragile little egos—we all need a good stroking at times—and what better for a little tug than some good old-fashioned wins?
The games begin with a multiple-choice section filled with senseless data that doesn't really have much to do with the real world. Think pre-calculus, but in cheese form. (Do you know how many udders a sheep has? Right, thought not. And why would you?) After the extensive exam that makes everyone feel a tad dense and kinda like a fraud, the contest veers to the voyeuristically sensational.
There is the "perfect bite," for which each monger curates an amuse-bouche of sorts with a cheese and two components that they provide. Think ribbons of gorgonzola piccante on a candied bacon strips with a drizzle of dulce de leche, or something along those lines.
Then there's the cut and wrap portion, where the crowd observes as the challengers attempt to cut exact weights. The following event is the salesmanship challenge, where a select group of judges pretend to be dim-witted customers who lob obscure questions. ("Is this gouda gluten-free?" Why yes, yes it is, as there is nothing in cheese but milk, rennet, enzyme, and salt.)
Once the pesky little challenge portion of the evening ends, the whole shebang deteriorates into a good old-fashioned cheese rave. Lights go out, drugs come out, and I guarantee you, if you want, you can take any number of people to explore a few other sensory excursions.
Cheesemongers like to get fucked up. We like getting fucked up in environments that understand what makes us tick. And although we get to do this on occasion when we get to visit dairies and commune with our cheesemaker counterparts, the Cheesemonger Invitational is our only other option. It's like a twisted-out cotillion where we all get to show off our pretty new dresses and then proceed to get plastered.
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in August 2014.