Let’s get the joke out now: yes, he traveled 460 miles to cut the cheese. It wasn’t just about his love of the stuff, however, reports The Wilton Bulletin. As with any cheese tale worth telling, there’s a backstory involved.
When he was living in Brooklyn during World War II as a 12-year-old, Italian cheese was barred from the country. The man’s family was Italian, and he missed having tasty provolone around. Soon after the war ended, he says he and the other neighborhood kids were playing stickball when they heard a local store had just “got the biggest cheese in the world.”
They dropped the game to investigate, of course, as when does when there’s huge cheese nearby.
“Then we saw it,” he told the paper. “It was in a crate — 12 feet long, three feet square; they took it out and put it on a table — a 1,000-pound provolone.”
Saying it made an “incredible impression” on him after going for so long without it, he felt a surge of nostalgia recently when he came across a story about a super-sized provolone at a New Jersey grocer. The memories came flooding back, and he called the grocer to see if he could visit for the cutting. When that provolone turned out to be only 750 pounds — and not Italian, to boot — he was disappointed.
So then he Googled “1,000-lb provolone” and got a hit from an Italian food emporium in Ottawa, Canada, which imports a 1,000-pound provolone from northern Italy every year to cut and sell during the season, he had to investigate. And when called the grocer up and explained, he said the grocer was more excited then he was.
“He told me absolutely to come, that I could make the first cut; he was very enthusiastic,” he told the paper, so he and his son made the trip in late November.
He was greeted by the hooplah one might expect from the local media for such an occasion, though he says the hype was a but crazy for him. As for cutting the cheese, well, it was surprisingly difficult.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “The cheese was very hard.”
He did get to taste the first piece, and take some home with him. But lest you think he’s the kind of guy who will drive all that distance just for food, think again.
“The cheese was great, but I didn’t wait 70 years and drive seven hours to get a piece of cheese,” he said. “I did it to relive a memory.”
Resident drives to Canada for 1,000-pound cheese [The Wilton Bulletin]