The Emmentaler suitor

Once upon a time a poor young herdsman in the Emmental was head over heels in love with a rich farmer’s daughter. But when he asked for her hand, her father took one look at the good-for-nothing, and turned him down flat.

And that was that. Or would have been...

The lovesick youth went back to his hut up in the mountains where he was guarding the cows, wondering how he could prove himself worthy of the girl of his dreams. For days he tried to think up a scheme to show how hardworking and talented he was, but nothing came to mind.

One evening a fearful storm broke. The youth had just finished putting his supper on the table, when there was a terrible hammering at the door. At that moment he remembered that he had forgotten to say his evening prayers, and was at the mercy of any evil spirit that happened to be passing. In fear and trembling he opened the door, and there, lit up by the lightning, was the ugliest little man he could ever have imagined. In a trice the terrifying creature entered the hut, gobbled up the bread and milk of the herdsman’s supper, leaving only a crumb or two on the floor. Then he turned to leave again – but as he did so, pressed a piece of paper into the herdsman’s hand.

A curious piece of paper it was too, when the young man, much relieved at his lucky escape, examined it under the lamp. It turned out to be a recipe, consisting mainly of milk, with a few other ingredients which also happened to be to hand up in the mountains.

He wasn’t quite sure what the result would be, but the next day he put all his milk in a large tub, and stirred it, and heated it and added the other ingredients, and keeping closely to the instructions, and with infinite patience, toiled away, seeing the mixture gradually harden. And in the end, he produced a huge wheel of cheese. He wasn’t too sure what it was, but it was certainly something unusual he had made himself.

He put it on his back, and made for the rich farmer’s house. The farmer could not fail to be impressed, if only by its size and strangeness. But when he tasted it, he nearly fainted with pleasure, and realised the young man would be a priceless addition to his family.

The lovers were soon married, and lived happily ever after. And they have been a source of happiness to cheese lovers ever since.