For Me, Nothing Says Easter Like Babybel Cheese

published Apr 9, 2020
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Easter bunny with kid
Credit: Ariel Knutson

Besides the occasional stop at McDonald’s, my family rarely went out to eat when I was a kid. My brothers were squirrelly, I had an unhealthy obsession with mac and cheese, and it just wasn’t worth the hassle for my parents. The major exception to this was Easter brunch.

Every year, my aunt, uncle, and cousins would trek down from the farthest reaches of Minnesota — almost at the border of Canada — to celebrate the holiday with us in Minneapolis. After church, we’d pile into our cars and make our way to The Doubletree for what was the fanciest hotel buffet brunch there ever was. (It was the only one I had ever been to).

It was a massive venue with swarms of families. There were ice sculptures of swans that towered above cold hors d’oeuvres. There was an omelette station that had dozens of fillings. And there was always someone who dressed up as a giant bunny who would come around to all the kids and give them chocolate eggs.

Credit: NeilIrvine

But the thing I remember most, the most exciting part of this lavish experience was the pile of Babybel cheese. No matter that it was usually pushed off to the side of the cheese boards; for me it was the epitome of Easter. After piling my plate with waffles and eggs, I would sneak a few wheels of cheese into my dress pocket. I would slowly peel back the red wax that enveloped the light-hued cheese and break it off into chunks to savor.

The cheese I grew up on was the shredded kind that came in big bags and got piled on top of pasta, or plain string cheese that was eaten as a snack. What kind of cheese, I thought, could be so special that it was served in wax? I never saw such a cheese at the grocery store. This cheese was fancy. This cheese meant that I was somewhere special.

As my brothers ran around the buffet lines and hid underneath tables, I would sit with my cousin and we would amass large balls of wax and shape them into funny things: Easter eggs, funny faces, and animals. We’d leave the hotel what felt like hours later, our stomachs hurting, and our hands still sticky from our sculptures. We’d have to wait another year to properly play with our food.

I might not remember the church service, or what was in my Easter basket, but the Babybel cheese I’ll never forget.