What's In My Lunchbox? Babybel, Baby!
Ode to a little treat I've been eating for 20 years
There are a few food items I hoard, I fully admit this. Japanese mayonnaise is on that list; I always have a bottle in the fridge and at least two more in the pantry for end times. Post-apocalyptic black market kewpie mayo should buy my way across the river to...no wait, I'm not telling you my escape plan. Suffice it to say, I have enough. On a more normal note, I also hoard Babybel cheeses, those adorable little red wax–encased pucks of semisoft cheese.
Maybe hoard isn't the right word. They do come in those delightful plastic mesh bags of 6, but I buy, like, three bags at a time. There's still a certain sense of ceremony after all these years, the delight at seeing that one was in my lunchbox, knowing it would be at just the right temperature and 100% perfectly fresh and of course, playtime. Here are some things I did with them (besides eating) when I was a tot:
- Peeling off the wax, putting the cheese aside momentarily, sculpting the wax into a person, decapitating it, then mourning the tragedy by eating the cheese. Incidentally, that's how I mourn tragedies to this day.
- Slicing the cheese into 8 wedges and eating them individually like a mouse. (More on my weird childhood eating habits here.)
- Cutting out shapes in the wax with a toothpick, peeling them off and sticking them to my bedroom window. Yup, cheese-wax window art, circa 1992.
- Sharing the cheese with my cat, Bandit, who was also very into cream cheese. I did not partake in the headless bluejay he tried to share with me but I tried to be polite about it.
And some more contemporary riffs:
- Sliced in half lengthwise and stuffed with fig jam as an appetizer.
- Grated over anything using a microplane (try it on roasted Brussels sprouts)
- Hook-up snacks
- Béchamel cheese
- and a secret I never thought I'd share: dredged, breaded, deep-fried and served warm on a salad. I've never seen cheese keep its shape so well in the fryer and still melt all over everything so well.
So thank you, France, for exporting your wonderful little individually packaged discs of sheer joy. Your cheese is wonderful, its packaging is all kinds of kid-friendly, and I also like your ham sandwiches.
Insider's tip: when abroad, which is unfortunately the only time I've ever seen these, pick up the green Babybels. They're goat, and they're...sigh, I said I wouldn't say this any more. Amazeballs.
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