First, there was the cheese. I remember going to the Des Moines’ Farmers’ Market and sampling Lois Reichert’s cheeses in the summer of 2010. The experience remains a happy memory. It was a lovely Iowa farmer’s market morning as we walked about, aimlessly perusing the wares from one booth to another. We then came upon the Reichert’s Dairy Air booth. As we ate samples, I remember thinking the chevre was the best I’d ever tasted—creamy, with a fresh tang and a smooth texture that spread perfectly on a piece of toasted French bread.
After that initial encounter with Reichert’s, I could not get the thought of tasting more chevre out of my head. It became the persistent craving that year, much like the desire to hear memorable meal stories, that I so loved. My passion for stories, particularly meal stories, led to launching the first rendition of The Delicious Story ten years ago.
MY SPOUSE IS A GOOD EGG, AND THOSE WERE INTERESTING TIMES
As I reviewed and edited this podcast I thought back on where my husband and I were at in those days, a time when we created nearly 50 episodes. The Great Recession was still fresh, and our lives had been shifted dramatically by it. David was downsized from his position and decided to go back to school full time to get a master's degree in education and teach art. I had been downsized months earlier and was working a part-time gig while trying to launch a new business. We were quasi-empty nesters, and of course, we were younger.
I had an interest in seeking out, hearing and recording stories, particularly memorable meal stories. And we accessed the unique opportunity of a studio and equipment to record videocasts. I asked David to be my co-host, and good friend and spouse that he is, he went along (reluctantly at first) and proved to be a supportive co-host in the venture. In this episode you’ll hear our signature banter, which is sort of the true us then, as well as now.
GOATS AND A DAIRY FARM
I admit to feeling a bit of the dork when I asked people to be a guest on my podcast. Podcasting was still a newer concept then, and The Delicious Story was actually a videocast, so the commitment for the guest was a bigger deal. The query went something like this, “Hey there person I don’t know well but find interesting: will you please be a guest on my show and either come to our studio, or let me come to you and record an interview . . . in person . . . with video?”
Remarkably, people were receptive and often downright generous. Such was the case with Lois Reichert who was kind enough to invite David and me out and see her and her farm in action. As you listen, you’ll discover that her generosity is natural, and that she truly loves what she does. You’ll also pick up that educating the public is an important part of her work as a dairy farmer. She teaches consumers about cheese and goats, as well as advising others considering going into the dairy business.
In this episode you are there in the kitchen where the “magic” happens – the hard-working milking room, among the noisy heard of does and kids. You’ll learn about different breeds of goats, like the Lamancha and Nubian, which Lois prefers, and why. And about the general temperament and behavior of the bucks as well.
For the foodies and science folk, this show has the content for you. Lois describes the process of making cheese and the science involved. We learn the difference between curds and whey and other ingredients and practices that are required to make a good cheese. Lois describes the routines of her daily life as a dairy farmer and cheese maker. We’re talking some long hours. We realize firsthand what it is to do work of the spirit rather than the pocket, and of her ambition for excellence while producing the best cheeses she can.
Here is Lois in action during an interview of The Beginning farmer.
THE MYSTERY OF THE DAIRY
As the show came to a close, Lois did share her memorable meal story with us, which was particularly perfect. She details the setting of a place in Italy and a small hidden restaurant. We can almost feel the warmth of the evening and sit at the table along with Lois and her family as they engage with the owners of the restaurant and sample the delicious foods. You’ll be pulled into the magic.
I will mention that there was a bit of a cut in the audio, so her location in Italy was missing at the beginning of the story. However, as she describes the backdrop, we get the idea that she was in the Piedmont region, perhaps near the city Turin where the annual Terre Madre Salone Gusto slow food event occurs.
I love this episode which is why I’m sharing it with you. I was grateful to find the audio files on one of my external hard drives and am proud to bring back shows for the reincarnation of The Delicious Story. As part of the preparation for this show, I checked to see if Reichert’s Dairy Air was still in operation. All my Googling and a few calls to local shops here in Des Moines came up empty. In fact, both the cheese shop and the grocer who used to carry Reichert’s Dairy Air cheese lamented that they'd not had products from them in a while.
As I explain in the podcast, I debated calling Lois again to catch up with her on the story, but I didn’t want to repay the first kindness of her time by bothering her again. I’ve decided I just want to believe she has perhaps stepped back from the frenzy of her commercial enterprise to enjoy a little more time for herself, her goats, and to make the cheese as she pleases.