Just this week, while I am on my job/career hunt, I signed on to volunteer with the French American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco. I figured it would be a way to keep up with my French, get involved with the business community here, and just keep busy. Well, the primary function of the FACC seems to be holding networking events, where they serve lots of food. Especially cheese. Granted, it tends to come from Costco because the prices are a little more manageable for this non-profit organization, but it’s not bad. Our directrice has excellent taste, being French, and so this evening’s menu included small rounds from the Marin (California) French Cheese company, Brie, P’tit Basque, Mimolette, Délice de Bourgogne, and the Swiss cheese le Maréchal (which we didn’t even need to open).
All of the volunteers just set out the cheese on the counter, uncut. I knew there would be a problem with the rock-hard Mimolette and the dinky knives available, but everyone insisted that it would be all right. When I circled around to check on things about 20 minutes later, and saw people trying to saw through the mimolette unsuccessfully, I knew I had to put my cheesemonger skills to work! I scooped it out of the guest’s hands, and gave it a go. If you want to know how bad the knife was, it broke clear through at the handle when I tried to cut it. Luckily, I found a slightly larger (but still awful) chopping knife, and was able to shave a few pieces off for guests. Phew. There was no more damage done to Mimolette or person. Of all the cheeses to set out in large chunks on a serving table, that would not be the one that comes first to my mind.
I also cut up little triangles of P’tit Basque because we had brought a whole wheel. It felt good to be behind a counter, knife in hand, sharing stories of the cheeses we were serving up.
Keep in mind, all of the other people in the room (about 30) were French, and none of them seemed to know how to handle the Mimolette. Lesson learned: cheese/knife skills are not innate to French people! Ha!
Ah, cheese. If only I could find a way to combine cheese with my legal background, I’d be a very happy person.
On another note, I can explain a little bit what the FACC does. They’re a member-driven French-American community in the Bay Area. Their main job is to network and create networking opportunities for members and non-members alike. With about 300 members, it’s a nice little community with which to drink and do business. I’m really glad I have the chance to work with them.
They are a non-profit organization, not an official government body. However, apparently people screw this distinction up regularly. Today, we got a call from a man who was upset that his favorite salt had disappeared from the shelves at Trader Joe’s. He thought the chamber was in a position to do something about it. Of course we can’t; I don’t know why he didn’t just complain at Trader Joe’s. In any case, I digress. If anyone out their is a French entrepreneur, or who wants to expand their business partners to French and French-run companies, this is the place to go. Their events are quite impressive, and it’s always fun to meet new people and exchange ideas. And if you see a little Asian person behind the counter cutting cheese just for the heck of it, that’s me.