Imagine my joy - my glee! - my aura of giddiness, when (whilst trying to find a loaf of sandwich bread that had more than 3 days until its expiration) I glanced over my shoulder and discovered 3 little round boxes of real brie shoved into a corner of a refrigerator case. If my giddiness had not already exceeded the Bush Alaska tolerance for dramatics, I might have made a point of pinching myself. It simply felt too amazing to be true. Did I really just find real brie in Bethel?
Now I know that "Ile de France, America's Favorite [Brie] Since 1936" would not qualify as "real" in most places. But here, where desperation has almost brought me more than once to the low point of buying nuclear-proof "brie spread", it is treasure. Truly treasure. Rare treasure.
I snapped one up, elated to forget the bread, and practically skipped through the snow straight home.
Do I eat it with crackers? Could I restrain myself long enough to let it "ripen" to room temperature? Was I fool to think that Ile de France brie needed ripening? To what gods does one pray to find the willpower to hold back long enough to bake a hot, crusty loaf of fresh bread? I poured myself a jam jar of the last of my precious wine (boxed), and contemplated how best to make savour this treat.
In the end, I treated myself to the luxury of a simple dinner of brie (no crackers to distract from my grocery discovery; no bread to delay its gratification) and boxed wine (two precious refills of that jam jar). (I feel the need to explain that I live 500 airmiles from the nearest package store, that there are no roads - except a frozen river - out of my town to that liquor store, that town law prevents the sale of alcohol within the town, and that therefore when one runs out - one is out. Wine is therefore precious. And boxed wine, which stores well and ships easier, starts to taste just fine. Especially when one, like I was, is tipping into one's last box of it.)
Only when I had finished that entire round of cheese, did I lthink to turn over the little round box to look at the price. My 8oz round of Ile de France cost $18.99. There was a big sticker advertising that it was the "Special of the Day." It was a special something alright.
So what does one do when they discover that the brie they just inhaled (despite all attempts to be haute with such rare cuisine) costs approximately $60 a pound?
They chuckle, my friends, whilst they re-layer themselves into the long-johns, sweaters, Carharrt work bibs, fur-ruffed and down-stuffed coat, two layers of gloves & mittens, REI face mask, beaver hat and hand-knit wool scarf that are necessary for the treck back to the store in the 42 below to see if there's any brie left.
There wasn't. Secrets travel fast in the Bush.