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Having solemnly vowed to embark on a health kick in the lead-up to the festive season just the night before, there in my inbox sat a reminder of an invite to an evening devoted entirely to celebrating Italian cheese.

Faced with a five-course, dairy-laden tasting dinner, suddenly the Tupperware salad I had stuffed into the office fridge seemed somewhat futile.

Ah well, surely there’s some sort of award for effort.  

The thing is, in my mind, cheese has always been the pinnacle of indulgent eating, and synonymous with meals that taste good in the moment only to leave you feeling uncomfortably full and bordering on regret.  

In childhood years there was gooey macaroni, with a top layer that bubbled until charred under the grill, or a Saturday afternoon favourite of Heinz tinned spaghetti on toast that was only perfect once smothered in a thick blanket of grated cheddar.  

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Later it was cheap and nasty pizzas served to the sticky tables of the student union or toasties for breakfast, lunch and dinner while counting down the days until the next instalment of a SAAS loan.  

Thankfully, it was a safe bet that none of the above would make its way onto Tuesday night’s menu prepared at the wonderful Eusebi Deli in the city’s West End.  

This was to be a collaborative event with the restaurant and London’s Italian Trade Agency, who are currently in town on the latest leg of their campaign to raise awareness of the incredible quality and variety of Italian cheeses available in Scotland.  

Think more Pecorino Romano than Cathedral City.  

The Herald:
Leading the evening was the ever-charismatic Giovanna Eusebi, who kicked off each of the five courses with an enthusiastic introduction filled with fun facts and historical anecdotes.  

Gorgonzola, we learned, was reportedly so beloved by Winston Churchill that he prohibited the bombing of its hometown (and its dairies) during the Second World War.  

Next, when presented with an East Lothian black truffle risotto, we were warned to look out for cheap imitations of the real, ‘king of Italian cheese’ Parmigiano Reggiano which is far superior to its cousin Parmesan.  

While all of this new information proved to be a welcome icebreaker for the crowd of 50 guests, perhaps the most important message of the evening came as Giovanna explained the meaning of a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) held by many of the cheeses we had tried.  

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She said: “It’s not just about protecting the region where the cheese is made or the history and the method. 

“Most importantly it’s about protecting the dairy farmers and preserving their cultural heritage.

“You have to wrap your arms around these precious industries, and if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them.”  

The Italian Cheese Promotion continues at Eusebi Deli until Sunday and I’d urge anyone who can make their way down to the Park Road restaurant to do so in search of some free samples, recipe recommendations and discussion with a hugely knowledgeable team of staff.

Diet be damned.