Yes, this is an actual cheese, but don't be fooled by the name; it is not made by large, sweaty, unwashed monks living in large, sweaty, unwashed abbeys. Heck, don't even be fooled into thinking of anything unwashed. This cheese is lovingly bathed in the finest home-produced pear wine from curdled infancy to pungent maturity.

Which, of course, brings us to another point. I'm sure many of you have noticed that the quality of bath you draw often determines the godliness (via cleanliness) that you attain. It's simple logic - do not dip thyself in three-day-old dishwater, lest ye stink like three-day-old dishwater. So when you make the pear wine from a certain varietal of said fruit bearing the appellation of Stinking Bishop, and you let your fermenting rind soak in the fermented wine, well, you get one damned stinky cheese.

And it does stink. There are over 100 varieties of pears available near the Gloucestershire area; the Stinking Bishop is differentiated from the rest by virtue of noxious fumes. I'm told that the pear is redolent of oft-sported CCM hockey socks, the kind that are considered 'lucky' and thus never see any action in the laundry room. Curds from milk cows local to the Gloucestershire area are thoroughly washed through with the pear wine before they enter the cheese moulds; from then on, the developing rind is again brushed with the stuff, every day, for eight weeks. No salt is added until maturity (and full odoriferousness) has been achieved.

Contrary to popular belief, this cheese was not first created by anyone of a religious persuasion; else we might also have 'fragrant friar' or 'malodorous monk' cheeses. The idea of washing cheeses in the manner done did originate via some Cistercian monks, but this exact recipe only came into being in 1972, when a startup cheese company named Charles Martell and Sons created it. They are still the sole purveyors (read : the only souls brave enough to make it).

Final notes for the assorted cheeseheads of the world : Stinking Bishop has a sticky-thick yellow-orange rind, and has a pasty consistency, crumbling slightly in old age. The flavor is meaty and intense, and it is said to best pair with Château Bauduc 1995. And, best of all, it's nearly half-fat.

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