This being the first time ever in my entire professional career that the guy who writes my annual performance review ordered me to go to a bar, you’d think I woulda jumped at the chance. Instead, when told we’d be visiting Baumgartner’s Tavern to try their world-famous limburger cheese sandwich, I thought about asking for an emergency leave of absence.
But on a perfectly sunny afternoon in early August, I found myself on the picturesque back roads to Monroe. Driving quite slowly. Perhaps subconsciously hoping I’d be too late to partake.
To my way of thinking, food is meant to be enjoyed. When it becomes a test of my bravery, forget it. If life’s too short to drink cheap beer, it’s waaay too short to eat things that are generally served to reality show contestants vying for a million dollars.
Among the dozens of signs adorning the walls at Baumgartner’s is one that reads: Limburger: Don’t eat it with your nose.
Sound advice, I’m sure, but it doesn’t carry the same gravitas as all the other rules we get hammered into our heads from childhood:
Don’t stick your hand in the fire.
Don’t take candy from strangers.
And my favorite:
If it smells like a sweaty, urine-stained gym sock that you’ve been storing under your armpit for a month, don’t eat it.
Ok, I made that one up. Point is you don’t really need a rule to tell you that if something stinks to high heaven, you may not want to stick it in your mouth.
So the mere idea that anyone has ever willfully eaten limburger cheese is counterintuitive at best. I strongly suspect that the decision to do so can only be attributed to near starvation. (“Honey! We’re all out of that putrid goat-intestine and cow-tongue casserole… is there any limburger left?”)
Technically, we were there to sample the limburger cheese sandwich, but calling this a sandwich is roughly akin to calling snails escargot.
There’s just not enough rye bread, raw onions and varieties of mustard in the world to enhance or conceal the fetid smell, the sickeningly creamy, gag reflex-inducing texture and rancid flavor of the cheese.
I took one small bite and chewed twice before I began speaking in tongues. Heard the lady at the table next to us tell her granddaughter that I probably had a condition. I sputtered, coughed and chased it down with half a glass of Spotted Cow.
It even managed to make the beer taste bad.
I composed myself and set the rest aside. Ordered a chili dog and a fresh beer. Ten minutes later, I was almost fully recovered.
By comparison, I’d say it was far worse than liver (no matter how your mother prepares it) and only slightly more tolerable than the root canal I had last fall.
And if my boss tells me our next assignment is to try some Rocky Mountain Oysters, I’ll be looking for a new gig.
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