the Cavalaire-Sur-Mer Experiments
On a recent holiday in the south of France some CRASS members had intended to get down to some serious pool-side cheese racing action at the CRASS villa. However due an unfortunate combination of poor planning and farcical incompetence - no one bought any Kraft(TM) cheese slices with them! As regular European cheese racers will know, this is a serious problem - as France being the backward country that it is, Kraft(TM) cheese slices are pretty much impossible to find. We searched high and low but couldn't get hold of any of the 'Genuine Article'(TM) for love nor money!
Did this put us off? No - despite previous disasters with unknown cheese brands, we thought we would try some of the local produce anyway, all in the name of science you understand!
First up - a very disappointing effort from 'President - Croque' Emmental' - it bubbled, but no inflation.
We had a little more success with 'Toastinette' from the Laughing Cow brand. Be wary though cheese racers, this cheese is available in two varieties - 'Hamburger' (orange) and 'Nature' (yellow), only the 'Hamburger' variety makes any attempt at all to inflate, as the first picture below shows. However it is still a long way off the performance levels required for cheese racing as the side view clearly shows.
Many less professional cheese racers would have given up at this point and gone back to cooking sausages or something, but not CRASS - oh no...
We sat down - had a beer or two, some wine, and a couple of glasses of port. We then analysed the problem from first principles. After much hand waving, hasty calculations and diagrams drawn on napkins, and a bit more port - we came to the conclusion that the BBQ was at lease partly to blame for the failure. The thick, well-spaced bars of the BBQ grill at the CRASS villa, were not providing a nice even heat - the plastic was being scorched where it touched the bars but was not getting enough heat between bars. The reason why disposable BBQ's work so well for cheese racing is that the grill is a lattice with relatively small holes - this ensures the heat is evenly distributed across the whole cheese. How then could we even out the heat on this BBQ?
The simple solutions are often the best so we tried placing all three cheeses on top of a layer of tin foil. SUCCESS!!
The Laughing Cow cheeses weren't laughing at us any more! They fully inflated, although the 'Hamburger' variety was much faster than the 'Nature' one. Still no success with the other brand though - totally useless.
By this time we had almost run out of cheese, but there was enough left for a couple of races.
So the moral of this is this.... if your working with substandard cheese and having difficulties getting inflation, don't give up - try tin foil!