Tusser says that a cheese, to be perfect, should not be like (1) Gehazi, i.e. dead white, like a leper; (2) not like Lot's wife, all salt; (3) not like Argus, full of eyes; (4) not like Tom Piper, “hoven and puffed,” like the cheeks of a piper; (5) not like Crispin, leathery; (6) not like Lazarus, poor; (7) not like Esau, hairy; (8) not like Mary Magdalene, full of whey or maudlin; (9) not like the Gentiles, full of maggots or gentils; and (10) not like a bishop, made of burnt milk. (Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry.)
A cheese which has no resemblance to these ten defects is “quite the cheese.”
Something choice (Anglo-Saxon, ceos-an, to choose; German, kiesen; French, choisir). Chaucer says, “To cheese whether she wold him marry or no.”
Now thou might cheese How thou couetist [covetest] to calme, now thou Knowist all mi names.
P. Ploughman's Vision.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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