"I think they did it on purpose. They knew what it was and I should have guessed something was wrong when the shop girls started to snigger and point at me. They didn't warn me."
Speaking on condition of anonymity and asking to be referred to as plain "Peter" and his colleague as "John", the unfortunate victim told his story to our reporter Paxton Quigley.
"John and I were working with an engineering company in Vienna on a short term contract, staying in an apartment hotel close to the office and occasionally I would cook a meal for us and some colleagues. I can't remember what it was, but I was going to cook some pasta that night and needed some cheese, so I popped out to the Eurospar supermarket deli section. It was there that I saw it.
"It was called Bierkaese, it looked like Cheddar and I didn't need my rusty German 'A' Level to translate it as 'beer cheese'. Perfect I thought, so quite innocently I asked for 250 grammes or 'ein Viertel' and it was then that the smirks began. I should have realised when the assistant put on two pairs of gloves and a face mask before marching it out to the air conditioned store room behind her. Staff members were nudging each other and I'm sure I heard the words 'dummer Englander'.
"When it was given to me, I was sure it was double, even triple wrapped, but my nose isn't the best so it didn't occur to me then. I took it back to the office and left it in my bag in the cupboard and after a few minutes I noticed John behaving strangely. He was wandering around smelling all the waste bins. I watched him for a while before he asked if anyone had put something rotten in the bins.
"I ventured 'it couldn't be my cheese, could it?' and let John have a sniff. Well, after he recoiled coughing he asked me to put it in the office 'fridge which I did and by then I could detect the whiff from it, so it was safe there, for a while, and none of the Austrians complained.
"That evening I took it back to my apartment, put it in my own 'fridge and began to cook. Our friend Nawaf turned up and I gave him a beer. He didn't look comfortable and said that he felt a little ill, so I opened the balcony doors as he was looking a little green around the gills. It was then that John came in and no sooner had he entered the room than he said 'can you get rid of that fucking cheese' so as he had asked so politely I took it from the 'fridge at arm's length and threw it out onto the balcony.
"From that moment Nawaf began to recover and we had a good evening safe in the knowledge that the Bierkaese was no longer a threat. However the next morning I was surprised to find several dead pigeons outside my room. Furthermore that evening the hotel receptionist told me that my room had been fumigated after the fire brigade had been summoned and, wearing their chemical and bacteriological warfare suits, they had cleared my balcony of the offending material.
"A day or two later, we recounted the tale of the Bierkaese to the waitress Steffi in our local pizzeria and she laughed, saying 'Ja, es stinkt'. Never again, I say, never again..."