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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pretty Rad, Part 2

A Slice of Charles Knapp

In Part 1 of Fairway to Heaven, I found myself unexpectedly immersed in a food emporium, the likes of which I had never seen. I traveled there with a friend who you will meet in Part 3 of this adventure in Red Hook, Brooklyn. However, the plot thickened, or perhaps I should say curdled.

I have written a number of stories with the theme Abandon All Preconceived Notions Ye Who Enter Here. However, looking back, it is fair to say that all of the people I have featured could easily fit under this umbrella. In New York City, more than any place I can imagine, you cannot define or judge a person by color, creed, occupation, lack of occupation, appearance, hygiene, education, or any other outward signs - even those things which a reasonable person may use to reasonably judge someone unfamiliar. This city is a salad bowl of ethnicities, types, and kinds. It's a magnet for luminaries, geniuses, eccentrics, misfits, artists, and every other imaginable variant on the human condition. But the overlying theme is the number of remarkable individuals hidden behind an unassuming or unprepossessing exterior.

As we explored the aisles of Fairway, we approached the cheese department. I love cheese but do not keep it in the house, lest I lose control and consume too much. My eye was drawn to two wheels of cheese stacked on a wooden barrel. My interest was immediately spotted by a man behind the counter who told me of the special nature of this authentic Parmigiano Reggiano.

No sooner did I show interest in a cheese that I was offered a taste. Soon it became a cheese tasting extravaganza with no holds barred. My first and favorite for the night was Amarelo - a strong but extraordinary tasting cheese from Portugal, made with both sheep and goat milk. As conversation ensued, it became abundantly clear that this was not just an ordinary salesperson but also someone who had a passion for cheese and a depth of knowledge. I also knew that this man, who introduced himself as Charles Knapp, would be the subject of a story for this website. Charles gave me a postcard with the details of a wine and cheese tasting that he conducts periodically at botto di vino in Red Hook, Brooklyn (see details here).

As I was leaving, I asked for his full name and contact information. He informed me that he also had a cheese blog which I perused this morning, along with a number of other blogs he authors.*
Charles has had a fascinating life and is far from what one might expect from a counter salesman in Fairway. Born as a Catholic, Charles studied atheism and shamanism in college, then became an SGI Buddhist. His father was in the Air Force, so Charles moved a lot as a child.  Here are some ruminations from his website:

Food Trip
Born in San Antonio, Texas. Raised in Europe. Love food Mexican Food only in Texas and California. Ate a lot. Parents had to hold me back. Was a husky kid always.Making lunch for school. Traveling to Holland. France, Italy,Spain. Ate diff foods olives,olive oils, meats, bread, wine, beer, and spirits. Always liked sweets. Candy gum cake. chocolate. Hot oatmeal. Strawberry picking, Elmers food and steak house. SOSC Cafeteria. Mom was a great cook. In Europe brotchen bread bratwurst. In spain, Bread and olives, cheese, wine and olive oils. Not only the food, culture and history for the region. It continues. I want to take Ben carlos. Own Business in Catering. Gouda in Holland. manchego in Spain. Quantro for dessert. Flowers and food. We have been on the go for the first 15 years of my life. learned German in first grade. Spain Rain on the plane to Majorca. The italians where so wonderful. Very giving about everything. They wanted top show off their food and history and culture all the time. Naples was wonderful Roma did we see the churches. After awhile it became dull. Humor and sarcasm were always around. Munich oktoberfest. garmische partenkirchen. The Sound of Music was our family we danced, learned a lot and ate a lot and drank a lot throughout chiildhood. Potsdam. Checkpoint Charlie. Our history together. resentments. Golden Child. Ms Griffith. 3rd grade Wizard of Oz. Tam class president. I supported her a lot. I was the class clown and the mischievous one.1975 we cam home to Oregon. Strange time. Came out of the cocoon of military life. Life is some cocoons. go in and out.  

And there you have a Slice of Charles Knapp :)

Note: If you want to be even more astounded with Charles's transparency and the candid exposure of his rich life, follow the links for his various blogs - 21, manspace, spiritworld2011, and snazzysales2011.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog! I just stumbled upon it really. The Photos are fascinating. Great job!/Dan

biebkriebels said...

That's what I missed so dearly in NY, real cheese. Not those plastic slices in plastic. Glad to see there is a big cheese shop with big cheeses, where you can cut a piece off. I noticed they have dutch cheese too, great!

Leslie said...

This makes me sooooo hungry!

Thérèse said...

Perfect title. Fascinating as are a lot of the people you happen to meet...

Anonymous said...

Amarelo, a great Portuguese cheese! Try it and you will discover an amazing unknown world!

Honolulu Photo of the Day said...

Amazing. Here in Hawaii we have very few places that sell cheese and I envy the fact that you have access to such a wide variety of cheese anytime that you want.

Iphone apps development said...

i am also feeling hungry now

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

Looks like heaven:)

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad that finally someone has the same vibe as me. i just have one close friend who share the same passion as i do. reading ur blog is such a joy i have to occasionally click on different posts when i'm pretty down again.