Mighty Cheese Warriors: An Historical Perspective
Damn time machine was on the fritz this week. I gave it a few kicks in the side, it sputtered, then belched spicy, persimmon-colored steam, then at long last, it spit out the piece below, which is apparently an encyclopedia entry of some sort. Is this is from our future or from the future of an alternate present (and if so, how the heck did the machine make it back here)? Eh, no matter. After all, it’s rather hard for Gastroblogian historians to resist a good yarn.
(The following transcript is from the speeches of Jaques Rochefort Gouda, circa 4246 AD, Gastroblogia Central Archive. As much as we historians would like to believe we know the facts revolving around the birth of Cheese Sandwich Day, and the accuracy of Gouda’s elaborations, alas, we have only spotty records; myths and bedtime stories passed down from generation to generation, and we can only say that we hope every inch of it is true. Especially the parts we’re least likely to believe. )
Citizens of Gastroblogia, today on the 2240th Anniversary of Cheese Sandwich Day, it is vital that we reflect upon the humble origin of this great symbol of our freedom, and so, I offer up a brief history as precursor to our riotous and cheese-filled celebration that will begin in just a few short moments.
(crowd goes wild)
Let us travel back through the mists of time to the origin of our beloved nation and to the mighty cheese sandwich that will forever be so dear to our hearts.
(more thunderous applause)
Few of you realize that the birth of our great nation was not an easy one. Oh, no. We had a rival. An older nation, confident in its supremacy but so attached to the old ways it had grown stagnant. Yes, East Epicurikstan –
(boos and hisses throughout the crowd)
East Epicurikstan, where the average citizen, despite his professed love of cookery, did not concern himself with what he ate, or what his neighbor ate, or his second cousin for that matter –
(cries of shock from the crowd)
Yes, East Epicurikstan, a harsh regime that claimed status as a meritocracy, but was, in truth, beholden to such outdated notions as “advertisers” and “editorial boards.”
Always, in East Epicurikstan, the interests of the few trumped the interests of the many, and always, they looked upon the newfangled activities of neighboring Gastroblogia with disdain, for here in Gastroblogia, it seemed, we lacked censorship. We lacked corporate overlords. And shockingly (to the East Epicurikstanians), we allowed — even encouraged — our citizenry to do anything they wanted.
(a mighty cheer from the crowd)
At the height of the Great Controversy, citizens of Gastroblogia declared their solidarity by carving their cheese sandwiches into outlandish and suggestive shapes. This particular artifact was found on the steps of the East Epicurikstanian Embassy by a writer of “glossies” whose name has long since faded into the dark recesses of forgotten history.
Now, one would think that would lead to chaos. Well did it?
(crowd responds with a resounding “NO!”)
No! Not chaos, but community!
Yes, poor East Epicurikstan, stalled in the dark ages because they clung, white-knuckled, to the archaic notion of top-down information dispersal, and yet, they still tried to impose their rigid beliefs on their neighbors, including the notion that one should not discuss what one ate for dinner, especially if one ate a cheese sandwich!
(crowd boos and hisses)
But, good citizens of Gastroblogia, we knew better. Even then, in the early days of our great nation, we knew better. We knew we did not need such impositions. We cast aside their glossies and the trappings of their so-called meritocracy and we rose up, declaring our autonomy. Who was East Epicurikstan to impose their trends upon us? We could start our own trends, peer to peer!
And that’s exactly what our great ancestors did! But it didn’t end there. Oh no, dear people, this was only the beginning!
Shocked at Gastroblogia’s impudence, the East Epicurikstanians rattled their sabers and cried absurdities. “There are too many bad food blogs,” they said, “Some of you should just go away!”
It is believed that in Days of Legend, centuries before the Birth of Blog, Mighty Cheese Warriors carried their sandwich gifts to neighboring tribes via canoe, thus ushering in a resplendent era of universal cooperation, feasting, and cheese production
Our great Gastroblogian ancestors responded, puzzled. “What does this mean?” they asked. “You might as well say there are too many stars in the sky simply because some shine brighter than others.”
One Gastroblogian cried, “Define many!” Another cried, “Define bad!”
The East Epicurikstanians couldn’t respond. They groped at “many.” “Well… lots” one said. “So many, I can’t find the good ones,” another proclaimed.
“How long did you search?” the first Gastroblogian asked.
“About ten minutes,” the East Epicurikstanian replied and twiddled his thumbs.
“Ahah!” the second Gastroblogian exclaimed.
“But,” said the East Epicurikstanian, “you don’t follow the rules. That’s why you’re bad.”
The Gastroblogians could only look at each other and shrug. “Rules?” they cried. “We have rules? Did someone give us a rule book?”
(laughter from the crowd)
And still, despite this all, the East Epicurikstanians rattled their sabers.
Firemen who rescued errant cheese sandwiches from tree tops were held in the highest regard in Gastroblogia and days were named in their honor. It is not now known how so many cheese sandwiches found themselves in need of tree-top rescue, but if Gastroblogian myths hold any grains of truth, we suspect that herds of “sentient sammies” (brought about by human-cheese hybrid experimentation) had something to do with it.
Now, one industrious Gastroblogian, not content to leave the discussion where it stood, set out to find these supposed rules, hoping that a definitive answer would at least curb the aggressions of their irritable neighbor. She searched high and low and found many different sets of rules, yet none of them matched one another and many were composed by the same corporate paymasters the citizens of Gastroblogia so disdained.
She found manifestos, each different, each pertaining to an individual citizen’s needs and desires. At long last she happened upon a collection of statements that best summed up the philosophy of Gastroblogia. She gathered them up from their various sources, carried them home and then spoke to the citizens of both Gastroblogia and East Epicurikstan.
“A blog is a conversation,” she said. “You may have it with yourself, or with your friends, or with your family. You may have it with your community, or with all the world at once; no matter. You choose, just as others may choose to partake in that conversation or leave as they see fit.
“You may find a conversation with yourself suddenly extends to the world, or you may find that in a conversation with the world, you are the only participant. Some conversations are more interesting than others. Some punchbowls at parties contain better punch. You are not obligated to serve the best punch, nor are you obligated to drink the worst punch.
“Nor are you ever, even when you share your blog with the world, obligated to engage in conversation with anyone but yourself. The point is only to do what you want to do because you want to do it. Beyond this, there are no rules.”
Cheese sandwiches often bore likenesses of great figures of Gastroblogian culture. It is well known that the Julia Child sandwich, considered priceless, is, to this day, kept in a temperature controlled vault in the Great Hall of Cookery. Sandwiches bearing the likenesses of East Epicurikstanians were often met with a less noble fate. Others were simply consumed. One legend tells of a Gastroblogian who constructed the world’s largest cheese sandwich, only to discover it bore the image of Jeffrey Steingarten. Unable to resist its siren song, the Gastroblogian devoured the entire thing in a single sitting and was promptly sent to the hospital.
Satisfied, the Gastroblogian sat back from her podium and took a bite of her sandwich.
“But,” the East Epicurikstanians cried, “What about professionalism? Who wants to read about what you ate for dinner?”
The Gastroblogians could only roll their eyes. They looked at one another and shook their heads, fearing the worst: The East Epicurikstanians just didn’t get it. The only thing to do now was to ignore their rending of hair and gnashing of teeth.
“We need a symbol,” they cried, “An emblem to represent our autonomy and our celebration of all that is good and delicious and lacking in rules.”
Briefly, they considered such things as the three bean casserole or tuna surprise.
But then the woman who’d sought out the rules rose from her seat, stood in front of her people and, with her half-eaten meal in one hand spoke the phrase that we all know so well today: “Ich bin ein Käsesandwich!”
(wild cheers from the crowd)
And so, great citizens of the Most Delectable Autonomous Collective of Gastroblogia, let us not forget our humble beginnings. Let us not forget the mighty cheese warriors who carved a path from our dining rooms to the stars and beyond!
Let us not forget our eccentric and irreverent ancestors of Gastroblogia!
And most of all…. Let us…. EAT!
(crowd digs in)