In Defense of Cheese

Since the late nineteenth century, the word “cheese” has most often had a positive connotation. For example,  in John Camden Hotten’s The Slang Dictionary (1863) it, or the word “cheesey” means “Anything good, first-rate in quality, genuine, pleasant or advantageous”. I’m not sure when “cheesey” came to mean the opposite, but I’ve had enough of it.

Last week we accompanied friends who delivered three hundred liters of goat milk to a cheese factory. It was an impressive amount of cargo.

Milk Containers

Once at Serras das Fragas, we met with Rui Carneiro, who explained the history of the operation. (Note big cheese in photo below.)

Keith and rui resized

We felt a special connection with all of this because the very goats we’ve enjoyed observing in our pasture for the last four months contribute to the production of these fine cheeses.

Back to the “specialness” of cheese, refresh your memory about the children’s singing game,  The Farmer in the Dell:

The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the farmer in the dell.
The farmer takes a wife, the farmer takes a wife,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the farmer takes a wife.
The wife takes a child, the wife takes a child,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the wife takes a child.
The child takes a nurse, the child takes a nurse,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the child takes a nurse.
The nurse takes a cow, the nurse takes a cow,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the nurse takes a cow.
The cow takes a dog, the cow takes a dog,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the cow takes a dog.
The dog takes a cat, the dog takes a cat,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the dog takes a cat.
The cat takes a rat, the cat takes a rat,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the cat takes a rat.
The rat takes the cheese, the rat takes the cheese,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the rat takes the cheese.
The cheese stands alone, the cheese stands alone,
Hi-ho, the derry-o, the cheese stands alone.

All the participants take a partner–implying sharing, and equal status–but at the close of the game, farmer, wife, child, and so on surround the cheese. The cheese “stands alone” in a central position, in the spotlight, as well it should.

Nothing cheesey about it.


About Tricia Pimental

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Tricia Pimental's second memoir, A Movable Marriage, has received 5 Star reviews from both Epic Book Quest and Readers' Favorite. It's available on Amazon in both Kindle ( and print ( versions. She is also the author of two Royal Palm Literary Award Competition-honored books: Rabbit Trail: How a Former Playboy Bunny Found Her Way, and Slippery Slopes. Other work has appeared in International Living Magazine; A Janela, the quarterly magazine of International Women in Portugal; and anthologies compiled by the Florida Writers Association and the National League of American Pen Women. A member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and a former Toastmaster, Ms. Pimental resides in Portugal. She can be reached at and on Twitter @Tricialafille.
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4 Responses to In Defense of Cheese

  1. Lynne Buckie Baker says:

    Cute! To whom/what are you referring when you say “Note big cheese in photo”? If you are referring to Keith, I must say he is looking slim and trim, not a “big cheese” at all in that sense. 😉

    If you are referring to the wheels of cheese, they are large indeed!

    Lynne Buckie Baker

  2. Ninette Bravo says:

    Nice – I love cheese and Lynne’s comment was cute!

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