Up to the age of about 15, I was a bit of a fussy eater. I would often decide what to eat in restaurant by ruling out all the dishes that contained things I didn't like, leaving a choice of only one or two dishes. I got away with being fussy, because I was comparatively normal compared to my siblings. At least I ordered something from the menu. My brother would just demand new creations. Pizza Express was the restaurant of choice as they would happily make a pizza with no tomato, extra ham and extra cheese. I always ordered Mushroom or La Reine. ALWAYS.
Eventually I got bored of this and started eating like a normal person. I even went to the other extreme, picking the thing on the menu that I thought I would least like, just to get over the fussiness. I knew I'd conquered it the day I ordered a Four Seasons pizza (Olives! Capers! ANCHOVIES!)
However, the one fussiness that I couldn't seem to shake was cheese. Mozzarella, cream cheese and Boursin were the only cheeses I'd eat, and only then when combined with other ingredients, preferably strong enough to mask the flavour of the cheese. I remember a family holiday in France, where a particularly insistent waitress asked if I wanted to share a cheeseboard with my parents. No amount of reasoning in English would dissuade her, but a firm "Je deteste le fromage" got the message through. On a field trip at uni we were served macaroni cheese, and just the smell of it made me want to heave.
I still want to get over my dislike of cheese. I'm slowly getting there. I'm usually fine with cheddars, brie and mild goats cheese. Parmesan and blue cheese still freak me out, but maybe one day I'll get there.
I thought onion soup and cheesy croutons would be a good way to introduce cheese into my diet. I went with a recipe from "Roast Chicken and Other Stories" by Simon Hopkinson, even though I was initially skeptical of pureeing the soup and adding cream. I really liked the tanginess of the vinegar and the wine, and a crouton added interest to the otherwise boringly silky texture.
Onion Soup (from "Roast Chicken and Other Stories")
Makes 4 portions
3 large onions
50ml white wine vinegar
250ml dry white wine
600ml chicken stock
300ml double cream
1) Chop the onions into fairly small pieces. Sweat them in the melted butter with salt and pepper in a covered saucepan on a very low heat. After about an hour, they should be very soft and mushy but not coloured.
2) Add in the vinegar, and simmer until it is almost completely evaporated.
3) Add the wine, and reduce by two thirds.
4) Now add the chicken stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes.
5) Puree the soup, and return to the heat. Stir in the cream, and reheat the soup, but do not boil. Check the seasoning and serve with a toasted cheese crouton (or 4).