I'll Take Your Stinking Bishop: The Search for L.A.'s Funkiest Cheese

Dear Mr. Gold:

Please recommend a great cheese that smells even more like dirty feet than limburger cheese. I’m looking particularly for that sweaty, stinky, between-the-toes-after-workout aroma.

—Jon Jr.

Dear Jon Jr.:

I’m not sure whether you meant your letter to come to the L.A. Weekly or to a fetish site. Cheese is generally more useful as a foodstuff than as a Weapon of Mass Destruction. If it is the latter you’re looking for, you might do even better with a few Asian specialties — the odiferous fruit called durian for one, the sensation of which Anthony Burgess once described as eating strawberry blancmange in a filthy railway bathroom. Or there’s the Filipino dried shrimp paste called bagoong, whose stink almost prompted the evacuation of the newsroom floor back when I was at the L.A. Times. Certain Taiwanese fermented-bean-curd dishes hardly smell any less rank.

Still, Lord knows, connoisseurs pay a lot of money for the pleasure of eating cheeses whose odor would cause major consternation if you happened to run across them on a city sidewalk, and the aptly named Stinking Bishop, a Gloucester cow’s cheese whose aroma was enough to wake the protagonist Wallace from death in Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, would certainly be among them — its signature reek is sometimes compared to old socks. So would Epoisses, about which one French poet or another is often quoted as saying: “Ahh, the feet of God.” Both cheeses are rather hard to find in good condition, but I have come across them at the Cheesestore of Silverlake. 3926-28 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 644-7511 or

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