Over the weekend I was cycling in Belgium, doing the sportive version of the ludicrously hard Tour of Flanders. On the way back, still eating like a horse to make up for all those hours in the saddle, I popped into a Brussels’ train station supermarket, and found this. Now, I knew that Passendale was well known in Belgium for its cheese, but I’d somehow contrived not to see a packet before. So, not able to ignore the First World War for a moment, I had to buy some (evidence, incidentally, of how hard it is to calculate when an academic is, and is not, working). Does it make a point about the specificity of British remembrance of the war? After all, part of Passchendale’s place in ‘memory’ is its associative power – the rural imagery of dale mixed with the biblical imagery of the Passion. Perhaps, but perhaps not – after all, the French didn’t feel the need to rename Champagne, for all the fighting that went on there.
It tasted pretty good, by the way, particularly with a bit of bread.