Tuesday 22 May 2018

The Moon May Be Made of Green Cheese

As a child I was confident that the moon wasn't made of green cheese, because, even at an early age, I could see that the moon was not green. I considered myself quite precocious in this, and imagined that my parents were proud of me.

But now that I am of man's estate, I discover that green cheese isn't green either. It's merely new, unripened, unmatured cheese. Green cheese is only green in the sense that a raw recruit is said to be green. This the original sense of green cheese recorded from the C14th century onwards.

Of course, if a cheese is physically green, you can call it "green cheese". Nobody is going to stop you. I have neither the time nor the weaponry.

And anyhow, the OED records that sense too. This quotation is from 1673:

They [the Dutch] have four or five sorts of Cheese... Green Cheese, said to be so coloured with the juice of Sheep's Dung.

But the original green cheese was usually white. Moreover, cheeses, traditionally, were usually round. This makes it a near certainty that the moon is made of green cheese; and that that's why you have a new moon every month, to keep it green. That's science.

So I was wrong as a boy, those were, as Cleopatra put it:

My salad days,
When I was green in judgement, cold in blood

Cheese, of course, goes with wine and sherry, which for some reason reminds me that my new and beautiful book A Short History of Drunkenness How, Why, Where, and When Humankind has gotten Merry from the Stone Age to the Present is out in America, and should be bought at once by all American readers.

The Inky Fool reached a melancholy 67%, but there was nothing more at the shop.

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