World Cheese Tour

Cheese is one of the oldest food products known to man. Ancient Mesopotamian legend suggests that cheese was one of the Seven Foods of the Gods: a gift bestowed upon mankind, along with fire, the wheel, and cellular phone technology. I personally don’t buy into such silly superstitions. It’s very clear that early man gained his original cheese-making knowledge directly from dinosaurs.

In all reality, no one can actually pinpoint the origin of cheese. According to Wikipedia, “it is probable that the process of cheese making was discovered accidentally by storing milk in a container made from the stomach of an animal, resulting in the milk being turned to curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach.” Mmmm! Hand me another slice of pizza!

From its misty origins, cheese spread like a … like a … like some kind of cheesy plague. It passed from empire to empire, kingdom to kingdom, realm to realm until the entire civilized world was now finally able to smile correctly for photographs.

Me? I love cheese. Not all kinds, mind you, but enough to make a worthwhile discussion. So fasten your seat belts and don your cheddarhead hats. We’re taking a World Cheese Tour.

We begin with cheddar. Wonderful, wonderful cheddar. Here are three facts about cheddar most people (er, okay, most Americans) don’t know. First, it’s named after a town in England. Second, it’s not naturally orange in color. And third, you’re not supposed to eat the wax casing.

While cheddar is easily the most widely known variety of cheese, we all know the most important cheese is Mozzarella. Why? I can sum it up in five words: pizza, lasagna, pizza, pizza, and lasagna. And if that isn’t enough, I’ll give you two more: Mozzarella sticks. I don’t want to think of life on earth without it.

And as long as I’m on the topic of Italian cheeses, I must talk about Parmesan cheese. See the cheese pictured here? Not Parmesan cheese. You may have grown up thinking this was Parmesan cheese. (After all, they print it in big letters right on the Comet-green can.) But this is a can of sawdust. Avoid.

Swiss cheese was made for turkey sandwiches. If you find yourself in some other Swiss cheese usage, you’re doing it wrong. I mean You can’t really make pizza out of it. No one deep fat fries it. You won’t find it at Taco Bell. And I don’t think anyone’s ever made Mac-n-Cheese out of it. Just turkey sandwiches, folks.

American cheese is better than Swiss because it has two applications. American cheese is for grilled cheese sandwiches. American cheese is for cheeseburgers. Under no circumstances should you attempt to use American cheese for anything else. I’ve heard tell its made from milk but have not been able to confirm this.

The last cheese on our stop is Venezuelan Beaver Cheese. This delicacy from from the East Shores of the Western edge of Northern South America has a long and wonderful history. It is also quite expensive! Gathering beaver milk, as one might guess, is a very dangerous business. It is readily available in most (but not all) London cheese shops.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of world cheeses. If so, I can assure you there will be more. If not, well, next week I’ll just have to talk about some other craft we learned from dinosaurs.

26 Responses to “World Cheese Tour”

LaLa said
February 3, 2009 at 7:19 am

Turkey sandwiches?………I like havarti cheese. Yum. Creamy and buttery…… and if you add cranberry sauce……double YUM.

Biz said
February 3, 2009 at 7:23 am

Mmmmm . Cheese. I am pretty sure I have had some type of cheese every day of my life!

But I like goat cheese and brie the best!

Well, that and pepper jack cheese, and grueyere for making fondue.

Oh, and dill havarti and of course the lovely cheese curd, also known as squeaky cheese.

Jennifer said
February 3, 2009 at 7:40 am

That’s so funny that you talk about Beaver cheese. I had a cheese that I had never used before and my husband said “maybe it comes from a beaver!” We’ve laughed so hard at that ever since!

My favorite is cheddar, squeaky cheese, and feta!

Tony Cannon said
February 3, 2009 at 8:29 am

I enjoy the subtle flavor of the cheese known as Whiz.

meg said
February 3, 2009 at 8:31 am

Thanks for the cheese education!

Tom Rooney said
February 3, 2009 at 8:51 am

This is a real cheesy story.

Tammy said
February 3, 2009 at 9:23 am

Mmmmmm…… cheeeeesseee

Jerry/Mom said
February 3, 2009 at 9:25 am

Fresh mozarella (for salad caprese), goat cheese, monterey jack, sharp cheddar for homemade mac & cheese and recently – havarti (thanks Beth). And you can make mac & cheese with swiss, as long as it’s mixed with cheddar.

LaLa said
February 3, 2009 at 9:50 am

Oh, and the picture of Monty Python’s cheese shop sketch. If you haven’t seen it before, check it out:

Charlie said
February 3, 2009 at 10:08 am

If you follow LaLa’s advice, there’s a slight chance you may just find the origin of Venezuelan Beaver Cheese.

Tuscanystone said
February 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Erm, what is ‘squeeky cheese’? lol

I’m not even going to tell you what google came up with when I entered ‘beaver cheese’ – very rude!

Does America only sell cheese in slices??

Cheddar rules!

Tusc 🙂

Annette said
February 3, 2009 at 12:13 pm

so much info…….so little time 🙂 I love cheese……..any kind, anywhere! I especially seem to cave at melted cheese 🙂 I am trying to be more aware of my cheese obsession these days……..but man, do I LOVE it!

Jess said
February 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm

False. Swiss cheese is also good on roast beef sandwiches (although not as good as cheddar, so I suppose this is debatable…but still).

Jamie said
February 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Mmm Charlie, that Wikipedia definition makes me want to slather on some more cheese onto that homemade pizza my girls made 😉 Extra sharp Cheddar is the best but I like almost every kind of cheese except Swiss! I think I could live off of cheese (although my body might have a problem with that, hehe).

Stems said
February 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm

my favorite cheese is manchago. it’s more of a garnish cheese, but i can eat it by the block (i do the same with parmesean).

Ruth said
February 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Feta cheese and Greek olives, people. It’s snacking awesomeness.

Kathi D said
February 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Er, um. May I raise my hand and suggest that Swiss cheese is also excellent with ham?

Thank you.

Vicki said
February 3, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I love me some cheese, but my favorites are havarti and provalone. They’re yummy anyway you eat them, but I especially like them melted on eggs or baked a light golden brown on Pizza!!!

Sagan said
February 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Mmm cheese. I used to live in the Netherlands and they had fantastic cheese! I always feel so luxurious whenever I buy cheese. It makes me feel classy 😀

Pubsgal said
February 3, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Loved the World Cheese Tour. As Wallace said, “I’m just crackers about cheese!”

I’m with Kathi D, Swiss cheese is also meant for ham, just like provolone is meant for pastrami.

Fattygetsfit said
February 3, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Beaver cheese? Really?

I am a cheese lover as well. I am a bleu cheese, feta cheese, all cheese lover. It’s one of the 4 food groups I eat along with cookies, boxed wine and french fries.

Charlie said
February 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Not really. It’s from the sketch:

Christie said
February 3, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I’m a cheese lover too. My new faves are a reduced fat colby jack and Baby bel light. Yummy! Thanks for another great post! (With no references to cutting the cheese. )

Quix said
February 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm

My favorite cheeses with turkey are Mediterranean (tastes sorta like cheddar with some olivey bits and spices) and jalapeno pepper jack. If I’m going to add calories, I want to really taste it!

Laura Brandon said
February 27, 2009 at 11:00 pm

I’m really REALLY gullible. The beaver thing was a joke, right?

Charlie said
February 28, 2009 at 5:55 am

See comments 21 and 22. 🙂