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Editor's Note: The debate on Provel cheese continues... even from within our ranks.
The first taste I had of Provel would have been in the mid-70s, when the girl I was dating in college and who was from St. Louis and whom I later married and with whom I would eventually move to St. Louis because—and this is a statistically proven fact—when one marries a person from St. Louis, one may as well begin learning how to mispronounce French names and drive too slowly when it rains because marrying a St. Louisan means that one is, if he or she does not, at the moment, live there, very, very definitely going to move to St. Louis.
It was at Talayna’s. The old one. The real one. With the stained glass. And the bathrooms downstairs. Where you really, really needed to have to use to actually be willing to go down there and use. [Editor's Note: In fairness, Talayna's has a new owner, a new name (Talayna's at the Park), and has been remodeled—right down to those bathrooms.] I did not have the Provel on the pizza there. I had it in a salad.
Talayna’s House Salad was not all that different than the one described by El Jefe Mahe here, the one he likes at Guido’s. And I thought it was pretty good. Provel goes well with iceberg lettuce. It goes with an iceberg lettuce salad like Mexican Percocet goes with your recovery from a kidney donation you don’t remember making after a night of Vodka-ritas at La Grosero Cabrito cantina in Tijuana.
I never thought of Provel on a burger. But I can visualize it. And as soon as I can figure a way to get the magazine to foot the bill, I’ll probably go to Smashburger and order one. Maybe writing something like “Taste-Testing 20 Terrific Toppings.” (Trust me, my friend: He's fallen for ideas of mine more preposterous than that one.)
And considering I regularly get e-mails from him that have been composed during hours of darkness when those Vodka-ritas and bad decisions both get stirred, I can well imagine the Jefe’s fertile imagination, matitudinem tempus, cooking up—literally—something like the Provel cheese toast with shrimp.
What I cannot imagine is Provel on pizza.
I am fully aware that the number of St. Louisans who eat Provel pizza is legion. I am aware, similarly, that there are a number of combinations of comestibles eaten by lots of folks that are odd. Not odd-quirky. Odd as in, “This is so bizarre I cannot look away” odd. Edward Scissorhands odd. People in Memphis, for example, heap coleslaw on their BBQ pork sandwiches. Californians add avocado to sushi rice and wrap it up and eat it (and do not seem to mind that a sushi roll with this has actually been named after their state). People on Cape Cod eat cold baked beans on bread smeared with mayo. The King had bananas layered on a peanut butter sandwich. You get the idea.
And I am fully aware that I am not the food police and you have every right to eat Provel on your pizza. Just as you would allow me the right to slather grape jam all over a beautiful, glistening pink-centered slice of prime rib.
You’d just think I was odd as hell in doing so. Enough said.