Heidi is a book about the healing powers of cheese, and don’t let anyone tell you different. That plucky little girl from the Alps couldn’t have gone very far in saving Clara or her dear Grandpapa without the help of dairy. Raclette is essentially the book’s protagonist.
Illustration Caption: She Handed Him Also the Whole Slice of Cheese
“On the top shelf Heidi could see a round loaf of bread, some bacon and cheese.”
“When the kettle was boiling, the old man put a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork, and held it over the fire, turning it to and fro, till it was golden-brown on all sides. Heidi had watched him eagerly. Suddenly she ran to the cupboard. When her grandfather brought a pot and the toasted cheese to the table, he found it already nicely set with two plates and two knives and the bread in the middle. Heidi had seen the things in the cupboard and knew that they would be needed for the meal.”
“What a wondrous place this is! I have never seen its like! But what do I see?” she continued. “I think you are actually eating your second piece of cheese, Clara?”
“Oh grandmama, it tastes better than all the things we get in Ragatz,” replied the child, eagerly eating the savory dish.”
“He commanded her to eat the large piece of bread and the slice of golden cheese. He sat down himself on a corner of the table and started his own dinner. Heidi drank without stopping, for she felt exceedingly thirsty after her long journey. Taking a long breath, she put down her little bowl.
“How do you like the milk?” the grandfather asked her.
“I never tasted better,” answered Heidi.
“Then you shall have more,” and with that the grandfather filled the little bowl again.”
“Heidi was running to and fro, for it gave her great joy to be able to wait on her kind protector. Soon the uncle appeared with the steaming milk, the toasted cheese, and the finely-sliced, rosy meat that had been dried in the pure air. The doctor enjoyed his dinner better than any he had ever tasted.”
“A cellar held no terrors for Heidi, for in her grandfather’s cellar fresh milk and the good cheese had been kept, and no rats had lodged there.”
“Sometimes the grandfather would make small round cheeses on those days, and there was no greater pleasure for Heidi than to see him stir the butter with his bare arms.”
“I’ll let him go, if you give me a piece of your cheese again to-morrow,” he said, for he wanted a compensation for his fright.
“You may have it all to-morrow and every day, because I don’t need it,” Heidi assured him. “I shall also give you a big piece of bread, if you promise never to beat any of the goats.”
“The grandfather put into the bag a piece of bread and a slice of cheese, that were easily twice as large as those the boy had in the bag himself.
“The little bowl goes in, too,” said the Uncle, “for the child does not know how to drink straight from the goat, the way you do. She is going to stay with you all day, therefore milk two bowls full for her dinner.”
“The grandfather milked a full bowl from the white goat, cut a piece of bread for the child, and told her to eat. “Afterwards you can go to bed. If you need some shirts and other linen, you will find them in the bottom of the cupboard. Aunt Deta has left a bundle for you. Now good-night, I have to look after the goats and lock them up for the night.”
Bonus Non-Cheese Dairy Product Appearances:
“Heidi, coming down, took her old seat. She seized her bowl and emptied it eagerly, as if it was the most wonderful thing she had ever tasted. “Grandfather, our milk is the best in all the world.”
“Then came a thick warm shawl and a large box with coffee-cake for the grandmother. An enormous sausage for Peter’s mother followed, and a little sack of tobacco for the grandfather. At last a lot of mysterious little parcels and boxes were packed, things that Clara had gathered together for Heidi. When the tidy pack lay ready on the ground, Clara’s heart filled with pleasure at the thought of her little friend’s delight.”
“Brigida had silently watched the proceedings, and could not open her eyes wide enough when she saw the enormous sausage. Never in her life had she seen the like, and now she really possessed it and could cut it herself.”
“Her appetite grew amazingly, and the grandfather had to make larger slices of the bread and butter that, to his delight, disappeared so rapidly. He had to fill bowl after bowl of the foaming milk for the hungry children. In that way they reached the end of the week that was to bring the grandmama.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.