All life worships the wash, be it our planet or washed-rind cheese. The earth is covered in 71 per cent water, in a constant water cycle of washing via evapotranspiration, precipitation and run-off. The earliest forms of life appeared in water and evolved from the water to the land; with water they could proliferate, photosynthesise and respire. Moons ago I washed and matured cheese at London’s Neal’s Yard Dairy. We put a webcam in the washed- rind room to get some time lapse photography of the process, however the brevibacterium activity in the room was so aggressive they effectively ate the webcam and destroyed it. When washing the cheeses, we had to take the rack out into the corridor to safely work with the cheeses and help to steer, where possible, the millions of bacteria, which were either working with or against us to produce something very flavoursome and new and exciting. ‘The world is like a washed rind’ philosophy was our regular conversation. Washed-rind cheeses are the most downplayed cheeses produced for the market. In New Zealand it’s hard to sell the real thing: hospitality doesn’t want a cheese that stinks out the dining room, while retailers demand shelf life and generic safe flavours. When I tasted Origin Earth’s Pink & White Terraces for the first time, I had a eureka moment, promptly followed by phoning Joanie Williams, the cheesemaker, and showering her with, “This is amazing, I want more of this in my life”. The cheese is washed in brine and vinegar liberally to produce a pink brevibacterium. It’s a gutsy, meaty, umami, peanut butter monster with a great broken-down core and sticky, smelly rind. It’s a cheese that intimidates with its stench, yet commands one to eat it, a cheese that takes me back to my time at Neal’s Yard Dairy. Put your left index finger on your eye and your right index finger on the cheese: if they sort of feel the same, the cheese is ripe. Origin Earth’s Pink & White Terraces, however, is always ready. CALUM HODGSON – THE CURD NERD

Calum Hodgson is cheesemonger at Massimo’s @nz_curd_nerd