Friend acquires a lot of cheese. What to do with it?
August 4, 2016 4:32 PM   Subscribe

For complicated / irrelevant reasons a friend has suddenly acquired 18 pounds of Red Leicester cheese. It is good quality. However (again, complicated reasons) the cheese must be moved, used or transformed into something else within the next 72 hours or so.

My friend lives mostly on his own, so can't have a cheese party, and does not want the neighbors finding out about this cheese anyway so cannot invite them. He can't eat it all in this time for health reasons (18 pounds). There are no food banks nearby he can donate to, and moving the cheese is problematic anyway (though not impossible). He can cook, though not to a great extent. It would be a shame for this cheese to just be disposed of; what else could he do with it? Are there recipes that can use up 18 pounds of cheese and transform it into (preferably) foodstuff that are not cheese-centric?
posted by Wordshore to Food & Drink (67 answers total) 168 users marked this as a favorite
 
If it is to avoid spoilage (which may not be the case), does he have freezer space? You can freeze cheese. He could even cut it up or grate it if he needs to hide where it came from.
posted by spelunkingplato at 4:38 PM on August 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


Could he call local restaurants to see if any of them are interested in purchasing it from him?

Hands down, most mysterious Ask I've read all year.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:39 PM on August 4, 2016 [72 favorites]


I'm not sure I understand the 72 hour limit.

Red Leicester is a cheese that can be frozen. He can grate it (use a power-grater) and freeze the grated cheese in one or two pound amounts in zip-lock baggies, being sure to squeeze out the extra air. It'll take up less space this way. Then he can use bits of it in recipes, as needed.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 4:39 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I mean, if you use it in a non cheese centric recipe, then you've got 100 pounds of cheese bread or whatever. I don't think that solves the problem.

Does your friend have a freezer? Frozen cheese loses texture quality, but can still be used in cooking, generally.
posted by mskyle at 4:39 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Are there any caterers within driving distance who would buy it from him? They are likely to have freezer space and/or upcoming events where it could be served.
posted by Mizu at 4:44 PM on August 4, 2016


It seems unlikely to me that a restaurant or caterer would be interested in cheese of mysterious provenance. As an alternative, I wonder if an animal shelter/rescue/vet might be thrilled to have some of it? Donate to a church? Craigslist? Buy Nothing group? (That's what I'd do with the amount I couldn't use.)
posted by instamatic at 4:57 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I for one would love to hear the story behind this mysterious cheese and why the neighbors ought not to know.

I recommend vast vast amounts of macaroni and cheese which could then be frozen for later. This recipe feeds 20 and requires 2.25 pounds of cheese. You could make eight times that amount and use up all the cheese exactly.
posted by donut_princess at 5:04 PM on August 4, 2016 [18 favorites]


Donation to a soup kitchen, rather than a food bank?

(complicated reasons -- Now we all think your "friend" is dealing with the fallout of an ill-conceived heist)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:08 PM on August 4, 2016 [44 favorites]


You can give anything away on Freecycle, even Cheese of Mysterious Provenance, but that might violate the rule of not alerting neighbors to his Secret Cheese.
posted by MsMolly at 5:25 PM on August 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


Give portions away directly to local homeless individuals?

It is a hard cheese that keeps well. This is a good alternative to peanut butter as a protein source that does not have to be immediately refrigerated. Homeless individuals tend to have few social connections and are unlikely to blab to the neighbors.
posted by Michele in California at 5:30 PM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


First, be smart from the very beginning. Cut the block of cheese into three pieces of 6 pounds each. Wrap each piece in saran wrap. Each of the three days your friend has to dispose of the cheese, put one of the three wrapped pieces in a backpack or messenger bag, along with other items - clothing, something else - so that a cursory search will not reveal the presence of the cheese. Carry the bag out of the apartment when he goes out for the day each day, being careful to note that he is not being followed. At some point during the day - not immediately - stop along the way somewhere that there's a dumpster behind a business or something like that. Remove the wrapped piece of cheese from the backpack and drop it in the dumpster. Repeat three times.

I'm assuming he stole the cheese from a neighbor, obviously. If he eats as much cheese as he wants before it's all disposed of, that will reduce the size and weight of each piece.

(this is not legal advice and IANYL or YFL.)
posted by The World Famous at 5:32 PM on August 4, 2016 [197 favorites]


I had a similar problem, but with blue cheese. We left it outside a neighbor's door, rang the bell and ran away. Seriously.
posted by Toddles at 5:33 PM on August 4, 2016 [65 favorites]


Will it fit in one of those "if it fits, it ships" flat rate boxes from the post office? Surely someone in the USA needs 18 lbs of cheese. Perhaps Trump would appreciate something even oranger and stinkier (by the time it gets there) than himself.
posted by The otter lady at 5:57 PM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


Just grate it up and pack as much as will fit in the freezer into 1 gallon ziploc bags. Use it to make vegetables palatable, especially in the winter (either make cheese sauce with it on an as-needed basis, or just melt it on.) But taste it first to make sure you want it. I love almost every cheese in the world, but can't stand Leicester. Or was that Cheshire? One of those.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:02 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Cheese soup is a thing!, as is Potted Cheese, and quiches (or mini breakfast ones) are nice with lots of cheese and freeze well. A good fondue or two and some racklette-style potatoes would suck up some more for me, and I would finish by trying to bake little grated piles of it to make cheese-chips like you do with Parmesan.
posted by Iteki at 6:06 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why living on his own means he can't have a cheese party? But he could also ask a friend to host something. If it were me, I'd probably post to a filtered group on FB and offer cheese to my friends.

Otherwise, grating and freezing the cheese seems like the best option. Unless he has a deep freeze, mixing the cheese with *more* food to create a food-thing to freeze is not only more time- and labor-intensive, but will also take up more space in the freezer.
posted by bunderful at 6:08 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Does your friend know any avant-garde artists or chefs? Offering it to one of them as a sculpture medium could get rid of this cheese in a jiffy. Plus, then you could call yourself a "benefactor of the arts."
posted by danceswithlight at 6:56 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not going to use up *that* much cheese, but I had great (must resist urge to pun) success using Red Leicester cheese in beer bread. It seriously tasted better than any other type of cheese I've used!

Just Google up a savoury beer bread or beer damper recipe and add to it: diced onion, seeded mustard, a teaspoon or so of sugar if that's not already in the recipe, and a generous cup or more of grated cheese. It's more beery and bready than cheesy so I'm not sure if that's an improvement though! If you need more specifics, let me know.

Also, would now be a good time to explore those non-edible uses of cheese, Wordshore?
posted by pianissimo at 7:12 PM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


After eating or cooking however much you want, feed your local wild life by throwing big chunks into a wooded area. Far from where you live.
posted by shoesietart at 7:57 PM on August 4, 2016


He could make casseroles to put in his freezer. Chicken and spaghetti is one that I make that always uses a lot of cheese. But, that's a lot of casserole. His neighbors might wonder why he's bought so many chickens. Could he maybe share some of the cheese with you? It's the weekend, have the party at your place. Oh! You could distribute 2 pounds to 9 different friends and have them come together at your place for a casserole swap! It would be the dorkiest, cheesiest party of the year! The dollar store has these foil rectangular shaped pans with cardboard lids, 4 for a $1.00. They are just the right size to divide on casserole into 10 pans, which would be perfect for the swap. Everyone could go home with 8 four serving dishes of some cheesy surprise.
posted by myselfasme at 9:00 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Shove it into a priority mail box, mail it to someone who lives near the Appalachian Trail, and let them put out the most cheese-tastical trail magic ever.

Because seriously, any "non-cheese-centric" recipe is going to have to dilute the cheese at least 3:1 or 4:1 w/w with other ingredients to no longer be cheese-centric, and at that point you've got 60-80 lbs of transformed food and how is that going to be stored/eaten?
posted by drlith at 9:15 PM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Is your friend in SoCal? I might be down for a road trip/cheese crawl if so...
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:05 PM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Where does your friend live? How much effort will it be to distract the neighbors while I make off with the cheese?
posted by Happydaz at 10:07 PM on August 4, 2016 [17 favorites]


Wait, is this cheese wrapped or sealed, or is it in some sort of raw state..?
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:08 PM on August 4, 2016


Cheese sculpture. It's a thing. Google it. Trust me.

moving the cheese is problematic anyway (though not impossible)

I really, really can't imagine why the cheese can't put into a tote bag and taken out of the house or apartment.

It would be a shame for this cheese to just be disposed of

If it was disposed of, wouldn't that involve transporting it out of the house? Unless -- your friend is going to dispose of it by grinding it up and putting it down the sewer!

I hope the OP comes back to explain the cheese mystery.

Also, one is not required to live with others to hold a cheese party. I have seen, with mine own eyes, cheese parties hosted by people who live alone. No neighbors were invited, and the neighbors were in fact most probably completely unaware that there was a cheese party happening next door.
posted by yohko at 10:28 PM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


Foodstuff that are not cheese-centric while using up 18 pounds of cheese, eh?

That would mean to use no more than about a quarter pound in every dish, not counting the blocks of cheese eaten while cooking. It is possible; he'll end up with 72 items of various imaginable kinds: Red Leicester-adaptations of cheese-topped vegetable pies, quiches lorraines, mini-pizzas, frittattas, etc., all one-by-one easy recipes that can be cooked by amateurs (so: no soufflé!). He should ransack all his cookbooks for suitable recipes, and make anything that looks good and can be frozen.
This is, in fact, one item every hour, and if he's economical with the preparations, can do all the shopping before the challenge starts, and has a nice big freezer, he totally can do it.

[You realize, don't you, that you will have to tell us exactly what's going on at some point!]
posted by Namlit at 12:08 AM on August 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Cheese Crisps

Preheat oven to 375 degrees f

Grate the cheese, place in 2-3 inch piles on a non stick baking sheet.

Bake in oven until desired crispiness. Remove from oven, let cool a bit. Place on wax paper and start layering them. After completely cool place in air tight container. These will keep for at least 2 weeks in a cool dry place.

No other ingredients, baking dries the cheese out and makes it wonderfully crunchy. Also, reduces volume and weight.
posted by moonlily at 12:19 AM on August 5, 2016 [14 favorites]


Freeze the cheese. I've found cheddar looses it's structure once it's frozen, and goes very crumbly, I suspect Red Leicester is similar, so it's easier to manage if you grate it then freeze it. Then grab a handful and throw on pasta, toasties, cheese on toast as needed until cheese has been consumed.

I have one Red Leicester specific recipe, which happens to not be too cheesy, but it only uses 3oz: cider pie.

And in all seriousness, if you can get it to London, I'll have it.
posted by Helga-woo at 4:40 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Post an ad to Kijiji or Craigslist for the amount of unwanted cheese for pickup. It will be weird but I am 100% positive someone will bite.
posted by lizbunny at 6:50 AM on August 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Cut it into sticks -- if it is too crumbly, make it into a potted cheese-type thing by blending it with butter, cream, etc and form that into sticks -- and bread it, and freeze it. In a huge bag with a computer-printed label: FOODCO 748 BATTERED ZUCCHINI -- 18 LBS NET WT -- BULK RESTAURANT PAK -- SERVE WITH FOODCO DIPPING SAUCE, PROD 3241, etc. Cheese-centric, but it won't look it.

And, if I am assisting with a cheese crime I feel I should at least be told the story behind the heist
posted by kmennie at 2:57 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Summon the mechanical trousers, obviously.

Somewhere, Wallace's fingertips curl with anticipatory glee.
posted by scyllary at 7:38 PM on August 5, 2016 [10 favorites]


Alright, you gotta at least tell us something about what you did with the stuff once the 72 hour window is up
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:42 PM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Trade it for something
posted by cholly at 10:09 PM on August 5, 2016


I've sent the mods a much longer explanation, as a confirmation that this isn't some made-up hokey but is real. I have seen 18 pounds of quality Red Leicester cheese and I've even run my finger all along one edge of it and believe me, it is real. Oh, yes. I have seen the promised land, Mefites.

One other point - it really is a friend, and is not me talking in the third person or some odd writing thing like that.

Will do a full explanation at some point on here later in the month, unless there's any legal or ethical impediment. Currently I don't know how this (frankly ridiculous and avoidable) situation will play itself out, especially as there are several people involved who are perhaps not the most pleasant, or the most sensible, of people. (probably including me for getting involved in this)
posted by Wordshore at 3:04 AM on August 6, 2016 [32 favorites]


I would absolutely look up any nearby homeless shelters, churches or schools which might benefit from some free cheese on toast materials. Be the dairy-based Robin Hood you want to see in the world.
posted by fight or flight at 5:01 AM on August 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


To sneak out the cheese without the neigbors knowing, could your friend perhaps stage some minor plumbing mishap in his house, call the plumber, and deposit in the cheese in his truck (secretly or openly, depending on his relationship with the plumber) while he's working indoors?


Other similar scenarios possible, depending on the state of the house. Don't use a service that won't come in time, obvsl.
posted by Namlit at 5:05 AM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Have a "Big Block of Cheese Day"?
posted by pjern at 6:32 AM on August 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Does your friend leave the house to work? Does work have a communal area? Leave cheese there, coworkers eat cheese. Success!

Or, failing that - gives portions of cheese to other people, who have jobs with communal areas - they all put cheese out, lots of various coworkers eat cheese, also success!

(Please let us know how this turns out. It is a very compelling story about cheese, which is very compelling to begin with.)
posted by 41swans at 12:59 PM on August 6, 2016


Related MetaTalk.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:21 PM on August 6, 2016


CHEESE SCULPTURE

that is all
posted by Sebmojo at 2:34 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


You may have your friend send it all to me, next day air. I will split delivery cost with him.

I will tell no one where the cheese came from. It will be the star of an extravagant dinner party where a life-size tiger marionette will act as the hostess. Someone may end up covered in chocolate and featured as a dessert.

I am not joking. I will send you photos of previous extravagant dinner parties as proof if need be. I will also send photos from our Red Leicester party if your friend would like.

PM me for address, thank you in advance.
posted by ananci at 3:12 AM on August 7, 2016 [18 favorites]


Red Leicester is basically cheddar and is a) a perfectly cromulent cheese and b) will freeze very well once grated. At a pinch, as suggested above, you can freeze...34 half-pound baggies of cheese and have like a year's worth of grated cheese ready to roll at any time. Perfect in mac n cheese, great on pizzas, everything about this is wonderful. It will go a bit weird and crumbly once frozen which is why you don't want to use it for structural or aesthetic things.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:27 PM on August 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming by now either the cheese dilemma has been solved, or something dramatic and terrible has happened.

For anyone else who faces this same problem though, you might consider grating, dehydrating, and then grinding all the cheese into a fine powder.

Then you can sprinkle it on popcorn. Or disguise it as great quantities of turmeric, or orange drink powder.
posted by Kabanos at 2:43 PM on August 11, 2016


I'm assuming by now either the cheese dilemma has been solved, or something dramatic and terrible has happened.

The actual cheese part has been solved. The human/people, and legal, parts not totally sorted yet.

Also; to the MeFite who just twitter DM'd me with a link to this post and the question "Is this the cheese?" the answer is "No".
posted by Wordshore at 2:50 PM on August 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


Best. Cheese mystery. Ever!
posted by eggkeeper at 7:49 PM on August 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Between this and whatever the story was with the balloons at the RNC I would really like resolution on one of these mysteries.
posted by like_neon at 2:13 AM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Okay.

Going back to before the AskMeFi question: the dialog between myself (Me) and my friend (Fred - not his real name) when I visited, pretty much word for word as I can remember it. I wrote this down soon afterwards to cover myself if things went badly wrong and I had to speak to the police, and also to send to the other police (the MetaFilter mods) as an explanation.

So, if you want movie dialog, but actual dialog (as in a documentary or recreation) here goes ...

+ + + + + Contains copious profanity

We are sitting in his kitchen (this is important).

Fred: Hey, great news! You remember that problem with the shared bill that Neighbor A (hereafter: Andy - not his real name) refused to pay despite being told he had to? It’s sorted!

Me: That’s good. I’m surprised he paid up as he’s always angry and righteous about everything and never believes he is or can be in the wrong. Did he pay the full amount, or did you agree on a figure?

Fred: Uh ... it’s not like that.

Me: ??

Fred: Payment was in cheese. A lot of cheese! Come take a look (walks off).

Me: {follows friend into his room} That ... is a lot of cheese. Good God. {confused about everything} Why is it all stacked up in your wardrobe in your bedroom? It’s warm there - surely you need to put it in the fridge or freezer?

Fred: Uh ... yeah. Problem or two.

Me: {remembering past incidents} What’s happened now? Why did Andy pay you with a large quantity of cheese?

Fred: He didn’t quite pay me. You remember he’s away for a few days because [reason not put here because of legal stuff].

Me: {Dawning dread} Yes. Go on.

Fred: I kinda had a drink or five at the pub and thought right I’m going to sort this now so I went round and he’d left his door unlocked so I went in and thought right I’m going to finish this because it’s the principle of the matter so I had a look around and found all this cheese and I took it and now we are even and the matter is closed.

Me: Let me get this right. You effectively burgled your neighbor, the one who is permanently angry and is obsessed with collecting axes and was thrown out of the re-enactment society because he took it too literally and chopped down a teepee during a re-enactment and everyone else around here crosses the street to avoid him and when he was running for a bus that one time several locals panicked and dialed the police?

Fred: Yes, but it’s the principle of ...

Me: Stop saying that. Have you ever heard the phrase “This will not end well.”? Look, just put it back exactly how you found it and never mention this to anyone.

Fred: Can’t. The door locked behind me.

Me: FFS. Also, why in God’s name has Andy got so much cheese? Or rather, had so much cheese BECAUSE YOU STOLE IT.

Fred: I have no idea. Perhaps he [reason not put here because of legal stuff]?

Me: Plausible. So it’s less likely he’ll go to the police. Actually because of [reason not put here because of legal stuff] there’s no way he’ll go to the police to report your crime anyway.

Fred: What should I do?

Me: First thing is to put it in the fridge, obviously.

Fred: Can’t. Neighbor B (hereafter: Bob - not his real name) is in and looking at things through his binoculars.

+ + + + Interlude + + + + +

The accommodation set-up is a little strange. The kitchen of Fred has various windows in walls and the ceiling, some of which can’t be curtained for practical reasons and as a condition of tenancy. Also, covering all of the windows will draw the attention of some people...

Which is where Bob, one of the neighbors, comes in. Bob spends nearly all his home time watching other people through his binoculars. Bob is also the gossip in that part of the village, happily telling anyone who will listen what he has seen everyone else do, through his binoculars. If you have lived in a rural English village for any period of time, there’s a high chance you’ve encountered a person such as Bob. They often join or form a Neighborhood Watch group with the wrong intentions.

The accommodation of Fred sits below that, in elevation, of neighbors Andy and Bob. They can both easily see into the kitchen of Fred through various windows. Bob has, on several occasions, told Fred variations of “I saw you put a really nice looking leg of lamb in your fridge. Was it good?” [real example]

The Joining-The-Dots Paragraph: Even if Andy doesn’t see it first, then should Bob see Fred either put, or remove, a large quantity of Red Leicester cheese (which is distinctive because of its color) in or out of the fridge, there is a high probability he will happily inform everyone he meets. Including Andy, the axe-collecting angry previous possessor of said cheese.

+ + + + +

Me: Oh hell, him with the binoculars. {thinks} Oh double hell; did Bob see you go into Andy’s place, or move the cheese?

Fred: No, he was still in the pub when I left.

Me: Okay, that’s something and means you aren’t 100 percent certain to get an axe in your head when he blabs to Andy.

Fred: But he owed me the money and it’s the principle of the mat....

Me: STOP SAYING THAT. IT IS A PHRASE PEOPLE USE TO JUSTIFY THEIR ACTIONS WHEN THEY HAVE LOST PERSPECTIVE. LIKE YOU. HERE. NOW. THIS. {waves arms in direction of cheese} THIS CHEESE.

Fred: I don’t know what to do.

Me: Neither do I. Could you just move, now, like I’ve advised you to many times, because of your neighbors?

Fred: Maybe. Perhaps I should just give Andy the cheese back?

Me: He will possibly kill you. As in, literally, kill you. With axes. Multiple.

Fred: True. Even though I took it because of the princi...

Me: GLARES WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS

Fred: Okay, okay. Sorry. What do I do though?

Me: This is an ongoing evolving situation. Split it into what needs to be done in the next hour, day, week, month, then year. Prioritise accordingly. Avoid escalating the situation into a path which is unsafe or limits your options.

Fred: Where did you learn that?

Me: Library school, where they teach people the skills that are needed to stop civilisation collapsing.

Fred: Oh God stop with the library evangelising. What’s the priority for the next hour, or day, then? {jokey} Hey, perhaps you could feed the cheese to that noisy owl you were complaining kept you awake?

Me: {annoyed, stressed, not finding anything funny any more} Or maybe I should just tell Andy where the cheese is and watch the spectacle of him smash down your front door with his axes?

Fred: {frightened} Sorry.

Me: You need to put the cheese in the coolest part of the room and rig up your fan to circulate colder air around it.

Fred: Okay. Then what?

Me: Unsure. But other immediate priorities involve stopping getting drunk and making situations worse...

Fred: But he...

Me: SERIOUSLY SHUT THE FUCKING FUCK UP. Also, do not interact with either Andy or Bob unless you have to. And find alternative accommodation, as advised before, NOW, because it’s just one incident after another and life is too short for this shit.

Fred: But what about the cheese?

Me: Don’t know. Will think. Can’t you just throw it away?

Fred: I think Bob goes through my bins at night.

Me: Plausible. {thinks} Extremely plausible. And you can’t take it away as Bob will see it and tell everyone that you were taking something large out of your apartment and he is wondering what it is, and Andy will guess. Ah! Unless you do it at night.

Fred: There’s a problem. I’ve thought of that but Bob was saying in the pub he was going to install webcams, so guess he’s into 24/7 watching now.

Me: FFS. You really need to move. Now. I need to think.

{silence}

Fred: {thinks a while} What Would Jesus Do?

Me: {eyes roll so far upwards they hurt}
{distantly remembers someone riffing on this phrase with What Would Jessamyn Do?}
{remembers AskMeFi}
Ah. I think I know a place which may have a solution.

Fred: Really?

Me: Yes. Might take a day or two. I’ll be back then.

Fred: Okay. Take some cheese with y...

Me: {utters obscenities}

Fred: Okay okay. Sorry sorry sorry okay maybe not.

+ + + +

Hence, this question on AskMeFi. My logic being “If I remove all the extraneous detail and stick to the core facts and keep it dull, then there will be no hint that something a bit dodgy has happened, and this question will be one of those minor interest ones that picks up 5 or so replies, 1 of which is usually a good one.”

That ... was a bit of a miscalculation ... as I realized, watched the answers roll in, various tweets point to the AskMeFi, a MetaTalk begin, and get an email from a journalist on a national newspaper sniffing around for a story.

+ + + + FAQ

(thanks to MeFite phunniemee for help in making this coherent)

1. People are still going to wonder what "lives mostly alone" means.

Because of the large amount of cat hair in the apartment due to one of Fred’s hobbies, he has a cleaner come in once a week. There’s a (probably small) danger that news of the cheese acquisition may leak out through this route.

2. Why you are friends with this person, who is an idiot?


He is okay and decent when he is sober. But, if I’m going to unfriend everyone who has said or done something regretful when under the influence of alcohol or something else (and I’m guilty of this myself), I’m not going to have many friends left :)

3. If Bob is binocularring to an extent that the cheese can't be moved to the fridge without spotting, then surely cooking something using 18lbs of anything would likewise draw attention, yes? Or does your friend not do this cooking near the place where the fridge is at?

Yes, the cooker and oven are in a part of the kitchen which cannot be observed from outside. Hence the line of thought about possibly cooking up all the cheese into disguised food, or something. However, on reflect, the cheese still has to be moved to that part of the kitchen, and there’s just too high a risk of it still being visible, or Bob speculating to everyone about the large amount of cooking that Fred is undertaking.

4. Mefi generally prefers to see names instead of letters because it's easier to follow, so just make stuff up, like Fred and Andy and Bob instead of F and A and B.



Done; to stress, these are not real names.

5. People, present company included, are going to want to know what kind of shady left out for legal reasons dealings someone might be into that would lead to acquiring 18lbs of cheese in the first place. Like was it a deal on an axe trade gone bad? Or, bet you can't chop 18lbs of cheese with an axe competition, winner take all?

I don’t know for sure, and the best I can do is informed speculation i.e. a guess based on previous incidents, gossip, and things read in the local newspaper. My guess is something the mods would have a problem in me putting on here so I can’t, and it may also cause other problems in the real world. I'd rather move on from all this.

6. What is the current status of the cheese?

The cheese was moved (removed via the window of Fred's room at night) and given to a soup kitchen - a suggestion (by Iris Gambol) off AskMeFi, so thank you - who used it gladly.

They do evening outdoor soup handouts for the homeless. It turns out that soup kitchens really like donations of cheese as it’s a prime source of protein, fat and calories which is very good for homeless people (especially those with alcohol problems), it can be easily added to many soups, it bulks out soup that is too thin or weak, and also uncooked cheese can be given away with bread. I learnt something new there and bought a load of additional cheese to add to it at the same time so they had a great big cauldron of cheesey soup. Grating a small mountain of cheese as a social group exercise turned out to be fun too.

Giving it to a soup kitchen also has the advantage that if there is or was any come-back, it can be pointed out that the cheese ended up in a good cause and was not used for personal gain or profit. It's also worth it just to see so much cheese melt.

7. What happened to Fred?



He found alternative accommodation and moved out quickly. I’ve waited until he is fully moved out before posting this answer.

8. Did Andy find out what happened?



No idea - I don’t think he did at the time due to the lack of axes embedded in Fred's apartment, or Fred himself. I’m not going back there to ask him!

9. Why was the suggestion of putting the cheese on his doorstep and running away highlighted as the first good answer?

I thought for a while that actually could be a good idea. Andy is going to discover the cheese is missing at some point anyway, but him finding it may calm him a bit, and/or confuse him enough so he won’t get super-angry. It may just look like a burglary gone wrong.

10. Do you know where the cheese originally came from?

Not for sure. It was wrapped and labelled (professionally) but with no identifying ownership or source on it.

11. Sorry, in the answer to question one, what is Fred’s hobby that generates so much cat hair?

I gave him a book on crafting with cat hair as a joke present. He took it seriously and brushed random cats in his neighborhood to collect hair for a project. He was talking about making a miniature donkey using just cat hair; I think he has a long way to go though, in terms of collecting viable cat hair.

12. What is it like to be in the presence of 18 pounds of cheese?

You know the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent Vega opens the briefcase and looks inside...


+ + + + + FIN
posted by Wordshore at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2016 [406 favorites]


This is one of the best things put on this website in its history.
posted by griphus at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2016 [61 favorites]


Ah sweet! Now I can move on with my life. Hungry, though.
posted by Namlit at 10:23 AM on August 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


bought a load of additional cheese to add to it at the same time

so even if Andy had learned of the donation, it wasn't the exact amount of cheese stolen from him. Wordshore, Fred is fortunate to know you. Thanks for the update.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:12 AM on August 13, 2016 [18 favorites]


I have lived in an English village and knew, from the moment I first read your question, this would be the cheese origin story. I mean, I was maybe fuzzy on some of the specific details, but the general gist would be something like this. What a fantastic outcome!
posted by Helga-woo at 4:39 PM on August 13, 2016 [12 favorites]


This is one of the best things put on this website in its history.

This is quite possibly the best thing put on any website in its history.
posted by scalefree at 10:50 PM on August 13, 2016 [19 favorites]


...and what's so neat about it is that it entirely revolves around real people interacting in the real world, moving real cheese with their real muscles. No virtual cheese monster etc. involved. I mean, how crazy IS reality when you look closely!
posted by Namlit at 5:18 AM on August 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


Clearly he needs to have a party so that all the party guests can stand in front of the windows while he puts the cheese in the fridge. Obviously the party will be the talk of the town, but even in small English villages there are sometimes parties, so it's probably a decent cover.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:28 AM on August 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I assume "put cheese on doorstep, run away" plan was discarded because there was no way to be certain that none of Andy, Bob, or Bob's cameras would see it and then axe time?
posted by tavella at 11:32 AM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I have no idea how these people got so much cheese wedged into their scanners, or why"
posted by listen, lady at 1:52 PM on August 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


In the realm of misuse of obsolete technology, what you'd normally have done (last best answer candidate) is to fax the cheese away. It's messy, though.
posted by Namlit at 1:14 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: where they teach people the skills that are needed to stop civilisation collapsing.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:25 AM on August 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


Me: This is an ongoing evolving situation. Split it into what needs to be done in the next hour, day, week, month, then year. Prioritise accordingly. Avoid escalating the situation into a path which is unsafe or limits your options.

Fred: Where did you learn that?

Me: Library school, where they teach people the skills that are needed to stop civilisation collapsing.


This is my favorite part of the story.
posted by yohko at 8:36 PM on August 16, 2016 [34 favorites]


Wrapping this up/resolving it, with a follow-up FAQ. So much cheese, so many questions...

13. I assume "put cheese on doorstep, run away" plan was discarded because there was no way to be certain that none of Andy, Bob, or Bob's cameras would see it and then axe time?

Yes, exactly. Though putting it there before Andy returned was an attractive option, part of the dissuasion was the high risk of Bob seeing it being moved there.

14. Why not do X/Y/Z to the fridge?

Because even if the cheese could be put into the fridge, disguised and/or unseen, Bob could ... no, *would* still see when the door opens and makes a point of observing what is in the fridge and what is taken out. The leg of lamb comment quoted was, by far, not the only such comment.

15a. Does stuff like this really go on a lot?
15b. I have lived in a rural place too and this kind of thing happened all the time. For example [anecdote].

Seems if you live in many rural places it just becomes background, the norm, after a while. For example, I lived in the Hebrides (just off the west coast of Scotland) for half a decade and could have filled books with anecdotes in that time. It's the place where a bear in a TV commercial was lost for several weeks and more recently (you may enjoy this read) police went about arresting a wrestler in a tiny caravan the wrong way. And what makes the news is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I dunno, living in rural Britain often seems like being in a never-ending episode of The Archers or Father Ted.

Am thinking this could form a new AskMe or MetaTalk thread (unsure which is more appropriate) at some point.

16. Library Schools teach that? Seriously?

There's multiple things here. First, when a researcher in library school (this is going back a bit) I sat in on a Logistics, Management and Planning module. Basically "how to run a library" and it was an eye-opener as to the many, many, things library managers and directors have to (simultaneously) do and the skills they need - especially prioritization and budgeting. Providing an array of accessible and relevant information services to the public is complex.

Second, even non-management librarians often need and/or acquire a myriad of skills and experiences, some of which may surprise.

Third, skilled librarians can find the information you need, and also - this is important - the information you don't know you need. Should the apocalypse happen, I definitely want skilled librarians on my team/in my compound. As complex inter-related infrastructure we take for granted or don't even know about falls apart, and we don't know how to deal with the resulting problems, they will be as essential as doctors, farmers, hydrologists and snipers.

I could write a whole essay here, but that's beyond the point of an AskMe answer. Anyway, Jessamyn is far better at explaining the essentialness of libraries and librarians so you're better off reading her writing on libraries instead of mine.

17. Can we have updates on everyone involved, please?

Bob's last comment/conversation to Fred, when Fred moved out, was "I heard you flush the toilet a lot last night. Are your bowels loose?"

I'm out of touch since then, but I have heard indirectly that there has been an incident where Andy attacked Bob's property. However, I don't know the details, and when you hear neighborhood gossip third- or fourth- hand there's always got to be question marks over the accuracy.

Fred himself, I haven't heard from as he moved in the opposite direction and he doesn't go online. The last time he spoke he has joined a new church which has a cat, so he's probably happily collecting hair and edging towards his goal of the miniature donkey made of cat hair. Which, so long as it doesn't annoy the cat, is fine; we all have our hobbies and interests. He's promised me a picture of the completed donkey but suspect this will take a long time.

Speaking of which; Me: I took a few pictures of the cheese, but knowing how things persist online am not uploading them. I have however got hard copies through one of those crappy photo printing machines in Boots, and have stuck them in my baggage. If/when I turn up at an IRL MeFite meetup I'll bring them with me.

+ + + + +

Most importantly, reviewing all this to see if any good can come of it; here's a few resources about soup kitchens and similar. Like food banks, they always need resources such as, well, food.

- Wikipedia entry.
- UK resources:
(maybe best to search locally for who is doing what, or ask your local CAB who will often know)
* (from 2007) Link to spreadsheet of soup kitchens
* Soup run resources
- US resources:
* Homeless shelter directory
* Find Your Local Food Bank
* Find food pantries
- Ask MetaFilter:
* 2013: soup kitchen volunteers! can you lend me your recipes, menus, & advice?
* 2011: Helping feed the homeless with just a little bit of time and cash and creativity
* 2011: Preparing food for the homeless

Marking the question as "resolved". The MetaTalk thread is still open.
posted by Wordshore at 7:25 AM on August 18, 2016 [68 favorites]


It is a shame that The Last of the Summer Wine is over because this would absolutely make for a potential episode.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:16 AM on August 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Bob is Compo!
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:49 AM on August 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


A minor update (though, a few months on, it's extremely unlikely anyone will ever read this).

Fred has completed the miniature donkey made out of the hair of many cats! I have seen it and ... it doesn't, in my opinion, um, look anything like a donkey. I didn't want to hurt his feelings by saying, after he put so much effort in (and been clawed by several surprised cats), but it looks strangely like that contender for a certain presidential election next month.

Fred says I can borrow it when I next travel to the USA so - assuming me and it both get through immigration - I'll bring Donald the Donkey (and the photos of cheese) with me to a MetaFilter meetup.
posted by Wordshore at 5:36 AM on October 6, 2016 [28 favorites]


If you bring it, and if your meetup is near the bay area, I will craft you a little donkey made of cheese. That is my pledge of appreciation for this thread. A+ would cackle madly again.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:23 AM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I will come up with a suitably commemorative gift if you are in New York. (I will even attend that meetup.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


assuming me and it both get through immigration
Animal products do have to be declared, but this has a rather good chance of getting through. (After all, living cats are typically allowed in from the UK with few restrictions.) It may be easier than actual cheese, though hard-cheeses with wax or plastic casings usually get through. Also, you are going to explain why he chose a donkey, in particular, right?

Gifts and applause should you choose to visit Chicago, or anywhere nearby.

Pretty sure this violates the askme guidelines. . . but, we can make an exception in this case, right? Pretty please? It's not like this will make the answers less valuable for other people who need to hide massive quantities of Red Leicester from insane voyeuristic neighbors. If anything, they'll have a nice meetup to go to where they can talk about the issues they face and find a sympathetic audience. That's got to be worth something.
posted by eotvos at 5:49 PM on October 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Several months on, the answer to the question of why "Andy" had a pile of cheese in the first place.
posted by Wordshore at 11:37 AM on January 7 [15 favorites]


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