Sunday, September 03, 2006

Getting into the Routine

Photo: Nick and Ben making Ticklemore Goat

Tuesday, August 29th

Up and at it by 7:45AM. Nick appears and has a big smile on his face. He and his daughter Harriet did very well at the Stoke Fleming Show. He had the longest runner bean, the biggest sunflower, and his bread won the Silver Cup for best of show. Harriet won several awards as well.

I worked closely with Nick today. We went through his morning procedures. He'd call me over and tell me how hot the milk should be before he adds the starter culture, then how long to let the cultured milk sit. He adds the rennet to water and gives it a gentle stir into the cultured milk and leaves it to set up. It forms a thick, tofu-like substance in the vat after 30 minutes. He then does his first cut of the curds. The blue cheese is cut one way, the Ticklemore Goat uses a different cheese knife and he cuts it in what Nick calls "a sort of Gothic pattern." He stirs the curds by hand. When I say "by hand," I mean he sticks his arms into the curds almost up to his armpits and stirs the curds by hand. He gently move the curds around, breaking up large chunks that the cheese knife might have missed and gets a good feel for how the curds are forming. "They're a bit greasy today," he says, as he's immersed in the Devon Blue curds. He's been making cheese with Robin for nine years; he knows what they should feel like.

Time for tea again! We go into the apartment and Nick whips out his digital camera. He showed us photos from his award winning exploits at the Stoke Fleming Horticultural Show. His prize-winning runner bean was truly impressive. I've never had a runner bean, but I'm sure I wouldn't like it. It resembles a green bean on steroids. I don't like green beans.

Ben looks at me and gives me a lopsided smile and asks, "What's teat? I blink twice. "Uh…I'm sorry…what did you say?" He repeats his question "What's teat?" I'm still puzzled by this. Ben has a very, very thick accent and I am occasionally stumped by it. I'd like some subtitles on this film, please. Hmmm. Is he asking about my breasts? Is he asking about what kind of tea do I want? Nick intercedes on my behalf and translates. He said, "What's t'eat?" What's to eat? What am I going to have for supper tonight? Oh! Lamb chops.

I'm starting to pick up the routine now. I'm a bit sore from yesterday, but I make it through my second day in the Dairy with a smile on my face.

Everyone except for Kay is from Devon, originally, but their accents vary greatly. Ben's accent is very thick; he speaks quickly and drops a lot of consonants and syllables. Nick says Ben speaks Devonish. It's a country accent. Nick's from Devon, too, but he's had a more genteel upbringing. His accent reflects the education he's received. There's been some English boarding school in his background. Kay has a thick Essex accent. She describes it as a Cockney-Essex accent. I love hearing her talk. Liz, is also from the area, but has what I would call more of a London accent. I can't put her in a region easily.

Just us Girls on Wednesday. No cheese made today.
I was working with Kay and Liz, preparing Devon Blues and Beenleigh Blues (sheep) to be shipped to a wholesale account. It was pretty mindless work, wrapping, stickering, cutting, and vacuum packing half wheels of cheese for this account. Somehow we got on the subject of accents. We compared the way we each pronounced the word, "water." Liz started and said, "WHAH-tuh." Kay said, "WHA-uhh." I said, "WA-der." Both Liz and Kay repeated my California pronunciation. We all had a good laugh. Damn, I AM a long way from home.

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