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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

Day 65 - Cheese and Potatoes?

Potatoes and cheese? That’s a special dish?

It is in Aurillac, a city in the French region of Auvergne, where my wife and I stayed with a wonderful French family while on vacation in France fifteen years ago. They lived in a very pleasant house on a hilltop overlooking the city.

On our second night there they created a very special dish called aligot, made from Cantal cheese, potatoes and garlic. We’d been out sightseeing all day so when we got back to the house and found all the commotion in the kitchen, we had to see what was happening.

There in the middle of the kitchen table was a huge pot filled with the aligot, a mixture somewhat the consistency of bread dough but with a divine flavor. We got the recipe from our hostess.

Of course when we got home we had to try it out. We set up a dinner party with a group of friends and my wife and I made the aligot.

This was a rather complex procedure for several reasons. First, yes, we had enough potatoes. They weren’t French so Idaho potatoes had to do. The first problem was getting the cheese. We couldn’t find anyone who carried Cantal cheese. My wife and I searched all the import stores. Nothing.

Plan B. We asked around to see what might work instead of Cantal. We ended up with a Finnish cheese called Havarti, which several cheese connoisseurs claimed would work just as well.

So we baked the potatoes. That went easy enough. We melted the cheese, also easy enough. Then it was time to mix the two items. Not so easy.

We quickly understood why making aligot was such an accomplishment. My wife started and quickly gave up and handed the project over to me. I soon realized this would be a project. Cheese and potatoes don’t mix all that well. It took a LOT of stirring, although given the stickiness and goopiness of the mixture, it really couldn’t be called stirring.

You couldn’t just dump the cheese in and stir a few times. It took several hours of grinding labor to get the consistency just right, free of lumps, mixed so finely that you could not see a bit of loose potato or loose cheese.

That night we proudly, and exhaustedly, served our newfound French delicacy to our friends and absorbed the oohs and ahhs. Were they sincere? I have no idea.

Delicious as it turned out, I have to admit that this was the first, and last, pot of aligot that we ever made. It, like many things you get from traveling, was better left to memory than to another future dinner table.

And, yes, I would like to taste it again. As long as somebody else makes it.

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