Ever heard of cheese nightmares? Nup? Well, count yourself lucky.
Last night I woke up panting, stomach churning and a cold sheen of sweat glistening on my forehead like Adam Rippon sparkling on the ice-skating rink during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (You didn’t watch that? Nup? Well, maybe you’re not so lucky after all.) My heart still thudded from the massive T-Rex that had, only moments before, chased me through the dark intestines of Luna Park. The dream wasn’t all bad: I did have the body of Chris Pratt. Sadly though, that part of the blue cheese–induced fantasy is unlikely to come to fruition precisely because of cheese. Curse you, six-bucks Castello blue cheese from Woolworths. Curse you.
This nightmare wasn’t the only one I’ve suffered. So, looking to continue gorging myself on coagulated milk protein without the resulting poor sleep, I asked myself, “Is there any science behind these oneiric, dairy visions?”
An (admittedly dubious) study by the wonderfully named British Cheese Board suggested that different types of cheese evoke different dreams. Stilton brings about the psychedelic, surreal visions of Dali; Red Leicester provokes nostalgic reveries, and cheddar is the fangirl cheese—it supposedly incites dreams about celebrities. Behind this pseudo-science though, there might be some more tangible evidence behind a cheese-induced restless night. Cheeses contain tyramine, a substance that, in high levels, builds up blood pressure. This, alongside the indigestion cause by eating a family platter of assorted cheeses and quince paste (we’ve all been there), might have been what saw me flee from a T-Rex through the gaping, garish mouth of Luna Park the moment my head hit the pillow.
Cheese, then, has got a lot to answer for. Hell, I’m not even lactose intolerant; just sensitive in all meanings of the word (insert a terrible pun here about how I can’t camembert the goudaness that is aged, pressed curds). I could never forgive cheese for that time I engulfed at a whole brie before a lecture. I wasn’t planning to eat it all. “I’ll just have a few nibbles,” I said, channelling my inner Michelle Bridges. But, before I knew what I was doing, the whole block was gone, my cheese to cracker ratio meaning that I’d eaten the second half in both hands like those Mighty Whopper ads from a few years back. I could feel it coating the insides of my stomach, jostling about gleefully as it planned its escape. Unfortunately, that escape was during my late-evening lecture in a gaseous (and, to be honest, potentially solid) form. I tried playing it cool, looking about suspiciously and emphatically wafting my hand in front of my nose in the universal sign of yo-that-stinks-and- definitely-wasn’t-me.
But it was me. It’s always me. This is what cheese does. It promises so much and then takes it all away in an I-just-shat-myself-in-a-lecture moment.
Maybe this year is the year I divorce myself from cheese. True, it’s already well into the year. But as Miley Cyrus probably once said, “It’s never too late to turn it back around.” Gouda bye cheese: you’ll be sorely missed (though less so by my stomach which will be considerably less sore).
IMAGE by David Zeleznikow-Johnston