22 February 2010

Shall I Compare Thee to A Summer's Cheese or Sometimes Things Get Lost in Translation

Imagine that you're in a Venezuelan nightclub on a hot night. It's late, the lights are dim, and a sultry salsa is playing in the background. A gorgeous Latina walks over from the bar, holding your favorite drink (which is the timeless mojito, in case you were wondering). She sets the drink down on the table, and poising herself gracefully on the couch next to you, she leans over, and whispers ever so softly in your ear, "Tengo queso."

You excuse yourself to pull out your pocket translator, which quickly informs you that your exquisite beauty had been trying to inform you that she "has cheese."

Wait. She HAS cheese? What does that mean?! Is she a black market seller of cheddar? Has Chavez gone so far as to ban this delectable dairy product from the country? Or is "queso" really a code word for ecstasy? You start to panic and you depart the club, alone and confused, even going so far as to leave that delicious mojito unsipped.

Dear reader, this situation will never happen to you. As a man with a diverse set of acquaintances, including Alvin Cabrera (note: most names in my posts will be pseudonyms for people I know) from Latin America, I have become familiar with a host of different cultural idiosyncrasies. One of these is the expression, "Yo tengo queso." Although LITERALLY it means "I have cheese," outside a dairy shop its connotations run much deeper. That Latin beauty was not trying to sell you drugs, but was rather expressing her interest in sharing some face time with you (read: make out).

Puzzling metaphors like this exist all over the world. But how far will we let these analogies go? While working on organic chemistry this evening, I was witness to a bizarre conversation between my two friends Laura Dakota and Melanie Wright. In a strange twist of "Yo tengo queso," cheese had suddenly come to represent men and Melanie was enthusiastically explaining her different "cheeses" to Laura.

"No, that one's not moldy! It's more of a pepperjack. And that one is definitely aged cheddar."


I'm not sure how I feel about this. Shall I be reduced to a simple type of food? Does that encompass all of this? If so, I'm definitely a Brie.

What kind of cheese do you have?

Keep your nose to the grindstone...or something,



  1. yo tengo queso, tu tienes queso, nosotros TENEMOS queso, DUH

  2. maple-smoked gouda
    fo sho
    you asked!

  3. "Brie", huh? Somehow I couldn't help being reminded of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTFZyl7hfBw

    Specifically 4:28.