Monday, July 27, 2009

Cheese It!

I don’t know about you, but I heard that the term “Cheese it, the cops,” meant that thugs would stop everything they were doing and smile big so the cops wouldn’t know what they were up to, thus: “Say Cheese,” a common expression for the taking of pictures.

Now, as I research this well-known phrase, I learn that "Cheese it!” most probably meant “Cease it!”. [1811 Lexicon Balatron.: Cheese It. Be silent, be quiet, don’t do it. Cheese it, the coves are fly; be silent, the people understand our discourse. ]

However, not everyone agrees with that etymology. The phrase has also been linked to "stow it," which one researcher claims is “an intimation from a thief to his pal to desist from what he is about, on the occasion of some alarm,” derivating from putting cargo in ship’s storage and shutting the hatches.

Lastly, San Francisco word researcher Peter Tamony noted that cheese was eaten at the end of a meal, so “Cheese it!” could have meant “End it!” from culinary usage. [Since I’m writing The Cheese Shop Mysteries, I like this a lot!!!]

No matter what, when you say, “Cheese!” you smile.

And when you serve cheese, your guests smile.

My protagonist, Charlotte Bessette, a cheesemonger who will be starring in The Cheese Shop Mysteries, the first of which is coming out next July from Berkley Prime Crime, makes this her main priority when serving her customers at Fromagerie Bessette or sharing a meal with friends.

One of her favorite cheeses is Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, a creamy goat cheese with a fine line of vegetable ash down the center. It crumbles beautifully on a summer salad. Here's Charlotte’s favorite salad recipe.

(for two)

Mixed greens
4 artichoke hearts
6 baby tomatoes
6 slices cucumber
1/2 avocado, sliced thin
4 black olives sliced
1/4 cup garbanzo beans
1 baked chicken breast, skin removed, sliced thin


1 Tbs. olive oil
4 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Humboldt Fog cheese, crumbled


To find out more about me and to explore the world of the upcoming Cheese Shop Mysteries, check out my website at There are recipes, tidbits, and other fun stuff. While you're at it, sign up for my newsletter.
And don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We'll announce the winners right here starting next week.
Best to all!


  1. Interesting, Avery! I've also wondered about those cheesy expressions. Thanks for digging around for us.

    I love salads, so I'll be sure to try this one.


  2. "Cheese it, the cops!" Hilarious. I never knew that! And I just love the name of that cheese. Humboldt Fog... I can just see the dew on the grass in the morning, the cows in the meadow...will look for this one.


  3. The salad sounds yummy. My significant other doesn't like goat cheese for reasons that completely escape me, so I'll get all the cheese to myself!
    Congrats on the new blog - it looks great. One more excellent bookmark in my Writing bookmarks list, one more distraction from the workday...


  4. What made you choose cheese? Choose cheese, that's fun to say!

    Do you have a favorate?

  5. That Brunette: Why? Because almost everybody loves cheese. Why not write about something that almost everybody loves? My favorite is Manchego. It's a sheep's milk cheese from Spain!

  6. Max Writer: Not all goat cheeses taste the same. Sometimes goat cheese can be tart. Perhaps you could try your SO on a small taste of something like Humbolt Fog, which is SO SMOOTH, and perhaps your SO will like it! Worth a try. And if not, you'll have more for yourself! Best, Avery

  7. I do not know much about cheese so it was interesting to read your blog. Now I am wondering why they named it Humbolt Fog.

    Please enter my name in your drawing.

    Helen K

  8. Patricia BarracloughJuly 28, 2009 at 12:20 AM

    Cheese is one of the best foods in the world. We have eaten way too much of it. When our children were small, we would go through a minimum of 5 pounds a week. We all like most types.. Took my 9 year old grandson to a Greek cafe and ordered flaming cheese (sorry, can't do the greek name). You should have seen his eyes when the waitress lit it. He loved the dish. Bought some of the cheese and fix it at home when I can.

  9. Cheese! Yum and Humboldt Fog, even better.

    Thanks... I will give it a try.

  10. We love cheese!!! My daughter even has a pair of ducks she named Cheese and Quackers (she has my sense of humor...). And my grandson and his girlfriend just started making goat's milk mozzarella (as well as goat's milk soap and lotions). So far they've made dill and garlic flavors. Both yummy.
    Thanks for recipe and the cheese suggestion.