Poor, maligned cheese

I shop, and as I wheel into the deli aisle I invariably feel sorry for cheese.  I love cheese.  My heart aches for folks that cannot ingest or tolerate it, or depose it for political or dietary reasons.  It is humble yet complex, simple yet versatile, ancient yet impressively adaptable.  It can be soft, hard, pungent, mild, subtle or robust.  All I can say is… wow.

To know me is to love me

To know me is to love me

So what’s the deal?  In North America when you eat “cheese” – well, what exactly are you eating?  As with all great things there are no easy answers.

A favorite moniker attached to many cheapy cheeses is “Cheese Food“.  A close relative is “Cheese Product”.  Those are runners-up to my all time favorite; government cheese.  And don’t get me wrong, if it has a cheesy (or even a cheezy) flavor, by golly I’m on board!  Pass me the Cheetos and the Cheez-its!!!

Is that crap good for you?  Well, since I place it in the ‘Food Crap’ category you know what my personal answer is.  Which may not halt my ingestion, though it does give me pause.  After all, the argument can be made that any cheese is not good for you.  And now my mind drifts back to Ben Franklin and his wise admonition that all things should be enjoyed in moderation, a distinctly non-American trait in the 21st century.

From the wikipedia page on the history of cheese we find that:

“Cheese consists of proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cowsbuffalogoats, or sheep. It is produced by coagulation of the milk protein casein. Typically, the milk is acidified and addition of the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed into final form.[1] Some cheeses have molds on the rind or throughout. Most cheeses melt at cooking temperature.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheese#Etymology

I love science, especially when nature intrudes.  Acids and bacteria rock it in the food world!

It’s just that well, I feel like a putz.  I adore the complex cheeses of Europe.  Moldy cheeses with the right wine pairing are an absolute delight.  Why then do I go into the same ecstasies over melted Velveeta in my Americanized taco?

I feel so tawdry and low…  now please pass the chips.   ~TH~


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