Today was such a day. I competed in the Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Competition in Whistler, BC. Now personally, as an athlete-this was a debacle, but make no mistake- I was there to complete, not to compete, and complete I did.
As I discussed previously in cheese review number 74, Double Gloucester https://myblogofcheese.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/day-74-double-gloucester/ cheese rolling has been going on for hundreds of years in England, and no one really knows why. Every year in the town of Coopers Hill, a round of Double Gloucester cheese rolls, and a boisterous gang of drunken, mostly male youth chases after it. Quite often breaks and sprains and sometimes grievous injuries result-in fact-a line of ambulances greats the cheese and runners at the bottom of Coopers Hill. The cheese roll has actually gotten a little ugly for poor old Cooper’s Hill due to overcrowding-mostly of wannabe outsiders as well as general rowdiness. In fact, there has been talk of canceling the roll at Cooper’s Hill on a permanent basis. So sad!
Thus, the best option for all who yearn to chase a cheese down a hill is for each Country to have its own cheese rolling contest, and leave poor Cooper’s Hill alone! This is just what the good folks at http://www.canadiancheeserolling.ca/ have done for the last 5 years. Sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada it’s one of Canada’s “most exciting and unique sporting events” and was held today on August 18th in Whistler, British Columbia and yours truly competed. Oh yes she did.
Now-why chase cheese down a hill, one might rightly ask. I’m sorry to say I don’t know that there is an answer to this question. It’s something innate..the need to chase and hunt, and in this case to chase and hunt a cheese. Why a cheese?Why a mountain? I’m not sure, I wish it were a little less steep, quite frankly, but there it is. It simply must be experienced, it cannot be explained. Get this on your bucket list now and thank me later. Just do it, ok?
There were several hundred other like-minded cheese and mountain focussed people gathered around together under the baking hot Whistler sun. At the bottom of the “hill” clustered several vendors giving free snackies of cheese. I-of course-snagged some Cows Avonlea Cloth Bound Cheddar (actually two wedges came home with me) and chatted with people about the joys of Alpindon Cheese and scored some of my all-time favorite Comox Brie by Natural Pastures. Really, there was lots of great cheese to be had for free and also free cheese seminars-although I was too busy vamping around for photo ops to take advantage of them. For instance, below I am pictured with Wally Smith, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, yup-that’s how I roll!
There were several male and female heats in this race of about 10 racers in each heat. At last, it was time for the “green band females” to get dressed in protective gear. We “green-band” females huddled in the athlete’s tent while I amused/assailed my co-green banders with stories of the history of cheese rolling (sorry ladies). Then it was time to hike up the “hill.” At the top of this heinously steep “hill” (mountain) the racers (in protective garb) got to touch-or in my case-kiss-the cheese for luck. This cheese was a custom-made Natural Pastures 11-pound wheel of Cracked Pepper Verdelait cheese (not a double Gloucester). The Cracked Pepper Verdelait was then set free to tumble down the hill at 65 KM/hour while the racers raced behind it. Really, race is such a strong word, it’s more like try so hard no to die. You can’t stop yourself, you are falling down a mountain uncontrollably, falling after a round of cheese. I actually made it about 2/3 of the way before going arse over teakettle down the hill a bit and scratching up my side and hands, but what glorious scratches! I shall treasure them forever and brag ad nausea-um at work over them. Behold my glorious tumble!
There were also costume contests and other fun activities for the whole family, but I was so focussed on the race that I only snapped this one picture of some charming cows, bucket of milk and cheese who ran in my heat-actually the cow came in second.
What can I say? You really must add this one to your bucket list. It’s a great fun day of insane activity and free cheese, does it get any better than that? Bravo Canadian Cheese Rolling contest, I bummed I didn’t win, but there’s always next year, right?