Monday, April 27, 2015


Born and raised in Wisconsin, I take my melted cheese seriously.

This week I got a bag of sodium citrate, AKA, Magic Queso Maker.

Heat up the liquid of your choice, add just a bit of this food grade salt, and then the shredded or sliced cheese of your choice. Even the crumbliest, crackliest of cheddars will melt smoothly, rather than turning into an oily and grainy concrete. You can do this in five minutes in a regular saucepan, or even with a microwave--no need to unpack the fondue pot from that cluttered cabinet above the fridge.

I'm not going to get too much into the molecular gastronomy/modernist terminology, but sodium citrate acts as an emulsifier, helping things to combine rather than separate.

It's been a week of rough news--painful demonstrations around the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the earthquakes in Nepal, yet another school shooting, and the usual confluences of snarky partisanship and reactive fear.

It would be reasonable enough to want to distract ourselves with melted cheese and go no further. But how can I, how can we, act as an emulsifier to bring people together, to combine creatively?

I do not claim to have all (or even a hefty minority) of the answers, but I continue to listen, to look for opportunities to engage, and to boost signals.

And maybe I'll bring queso.

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