Skip to comments.In the Cheese Wars, Call Me a Traitor
Posted on 03/19/2014 5:22:58 PM PDT by Kaslin
With so much uncertainty in the world, it's upsetting to see American politicians, backed by cheesy special interests, trying to start a war with Europe.
A cheese war.
And in the jingoistic climate of today's aggressive and expansionist cheese policy, I'm a cheese lover without a country. And some will call me a traitor.
When it comes to cheese, there are standards in this world -- of fairness, and of excellence. Such standards shall not be undermined, not for clan or for country.
So, America, you may exile me in the name of Camembert. You may revile me for manchego. But damn it, leave my feta alone.
What started it all was the reasonable European Union request that American cheese-makers stop filching European names for their various cheeses.
That set off an American cheese chorus that was angry, perhaps even xenophobic.
"Muenster is Muenster, no matter how you slice it," declared U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat.
I thought that once the neocons were discredited and out of power, America would stop bending other cultures to its will. But now I see Schumer is playing the same game as the Bushes of old.
Consider Parmesan. Most Americans think it comes pre-grated in a plastic container. That is not Parmesan. That is an abomination.
The EU wonders: How can Americans dare call it Parmesan when it doesn't even come from Parma, Italy?
Don't bring that fake pre-grated collection of salts and fats they call Parmesan-in-a-can to my house, not when my cousin Mariella, from Reggio di Calabria, has made her famous ravioli.
Something terrible might happen. You might be tempted to shake your domestic cheesy trash upon her ravioli.
And then Mariella just might lop your hand off.
Yes, it's a horrible thought. But the truth is, none of us would stop her. Why? Because fake Parmesan is an insult. Sure, your hand on the kitchen floor, the fingers twitching, might ruin our meal. But the meal would already be ruined, because of your Parmesan-in-a-can.
After the incident of the hand, we would share your grief, give you hugs of sympathy and even package your lopped hand in a shopping bag, as hospitality requires.
European cheese lovers are not savages, no matter what the Schumer-backed cheese-o-cons say.
The American approach to Greek feta is another insult.
That crumbly garbage in a plastic tub that some Americans put on their salads isn't feta. It's not even from sheep's milk.
And what about Greek yogurt? Yet another insult.
One of the popular brands of Greek yogurt is made by Turks. Now, I've been to Turkey. I loved the country, and I have friends who are Turkish.
But calling it Greek yogurt -- when it's not Greek -- is more than diplomatically unsound.
It is an assault on a NATO ally that fought against all odds, slowing the Nazi advance into Russia so the good guys could win the war.
It's Greek feta. It's Italian Parmesan.
If American cheese dealers want to use those names, I have a compromise. Put ISH next to the feta, in large capital letters, like this:
The same with that stuff in a plastic can -- Parmesan-ISH.
I'm not saying Americans don't make scrumptious cheese. There are many excellent cheeses from Wisconsin, for example, and New York.
Maytag Blue cheese from Iowa is a symphony on your tongue. It's an American symphony, and it goes great with wine, and sweet grapes after dinner, or on toast for breakfast.
But angry American cheese merchants brook no dissent, and that anger boiled over Thursday on my WLS-AM morning show.
Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of trade policy with the U.S. Dairy Export Council, was our guest. I declared my cheese allegiance.
"Based on your premise, I think that perhaps you should go and give your name back to the English," Castaneda said. "You shouldn't be using 'John.'"
Really, I thought? I can't use my name because you're angry about the politics of cheese? Naturally, I took it to DEFCON 4.
"Why not go up into the mountain to our village and tell it to my cousins?" I said. "Then see if you can make it back down the mountain."
"You're in America, you're in America, right?" he asked. "Why are you using an English name?"
See how things escalate? It's a good thing we didn't have nukes.
"It is impossible to rename our cheeses," he said.
No, it's not impossible. Wisconsin cheeses with European names should be renamed after great Green Bay Packers of old.
And the finest of Wisconsin cheeses could be called "Vince."
One cheese America doesn't have to rename is Velveeta, the American standard, a block of yellow fats called "cheese food." It is so long-lasting that it just might end up in your granddaughter's asparagus casserole in 2032.
And Cheez Whiz, another American favorite, is a spread from a jar or squirted out of a can. You can't make a real Philly cheesesteak sanguich without Cheez Whiz. And if you don't like Philly steaks, you can't call yourself an American.
But that's the American way. And the Europeans have their own way.
We've spent many years meddling in other nations' affairs. It's high time for the Europeans to become the cheese police of the world.
This guy’s head must explode when he sees they held “Social Security” out of his check.
Gouda nuff for them Gouda nuff for us. :-)
We should have a cheese and booze exchange. We get to call our blue cheese Stilton and they get to call their booze Tennessee bourbon.
Isn’t there mandatory pasteurization for cheese made in the US?
This country produces some great cheeses. Vermont cheddar is wonderful and, since “cheddar” is also verb, I see no problem using the name. American made Stilton, Roquefort, Brie and Parmesan are, each, their own kind of abominations. Give the Europeans their due, spend the money and buy the real thing. It’s way better. Really.
Emmental tales this guy is making.
As a compromise, they could add American to the name, so it’s clear that these are American versions of the cheeses in question.
I used to put Feta in my salads, but the price has ridiculously skyrocketed so it can just sit and fester and mold on the store shelves these days. Nowadays, I usually toss some Havarti on top.
Valveeta is cheese? That's really stretching the word "cheese". Doesn't it have to be labeled "cheese food"?
If the French start selling something called Wisconsin Cheddar, they’re going to be in a heap of trouble.
Is that due to the pasteurization process or old world secrets or what?
Will the Europeans stop calling those huge fake M&Ms that taste like beet flavored Sixlets “Smarties”? Tiny pastel discs are “Smarties”.
Enough with the bad cheese puns! I just Camembert it any longer!
Hmm, I just did a search in Merriam Webster.com dictionary and dictionary.com and didn't find anything stating that it was a verb. Both said it was a noun.Also every dictionaries that I searched besides theses two said it was a Noun. All of them including the 2 said it is mostly capitalized as in Cheddar. That said Brie Cheese and Camembert are my favorite cheeses. I also love Emmentaler cheese
Europe is quite cheesy I will admit.
But sorry their "real" whatever is something that they swiped from someone else. In fact cheese is from the middle east so Europe can just quit calling it cheese and invent some other name for it since it is not "real" cheese which can only be made in the middle east probably from camel milk.
Might I suggest name it after themselves "petty tyrant loving nitpickers"? Then they can have some feta PTLN.
I cheddar at the thought of using cheese names as verbs.
I'm sure Michelle Obama disapproves...
But he’s correct about that stuff in the picture at the top of the article. That crap is 1/2 wax.
When I was in Somerset twenty years ago the locals referred to the process of cutting the fresh curds into small chunks before refoming the cheese into wheels as “Cheddaring”. Perhaps it was a local usage.
No, Velveeta is really cheese. Made from milk. It’s more cheese than the Kraft “Parmesan” in the can.
I have no idea but I was in the alps sat July on the French/Italian border in a small French village called Isola. The local fromagerie produced a soft Gorgonzola that was almost too good to be true. The cws and heel they used were grazing right there in the mountains. Perhaps it’s the freshness of the raw material.
Oh I’m so sorry I touched a too sensitive nerve for you. To my knowledge no middle eastener ever produced a camel milk Stilton, Brie, Gorgonzola or Parmesan. I defer to your impressive knowledge in these matters. But keep in mind, the issue is the varietal names of the cheese, not the word “cheese” itself. Very confusing, I know.
To cheddar your curd means to take cubed curds, and If I remember correctly, to heat them. “Cheddaring” the curd.
Where’s my Liederkranz?
I know that the pasturage supposedly does make a difference, along with the milk producing stock, some of those strains have been around a good long while now.
I have heard the pasteurization thing with cheese from a few people, don’t know if it’s true or not.
These names have been used for hundreds of years.They describe different types of cheese. They aren’t brand names so Europe can suck it up.If they want to start making “Texan” barbeque,they can go right ahead.
If you find out, will you tell me? That’s my favorite cheese of all, and I haven’t seen any for a really long time.
“But hes correct about that stuff in the picture at the top of the article. That crap is 1/2 wax.”
It very well may be but I wouldn’t think that anyone would be so easily fooled thinking that it is the real thing.
I believe the correct term for Velveeta is "processed American cheese product".
Many grocery products are identified by what is called a "standard of identity" -- which keeps manufacturers from calling a product what it is not.
The terminology for Velveeta describes it as "American" cheese -- as opposed to Swiss, Cheddar, etc. -- a "cheese product", i.e., including cheese plus other products (in Velveeta's case, milk protein solids) -- and "processed" -- having been melted, mixed with other ingredients (including emulsifiers)and fabricated.
So, yes, Velveeta is mostly cheese and its constitution has been altered. So, technically, it's not "cheese".
They think granulated salt is just salt, too. It is also coated in wax to keep it flowing.
You are correct, sir! (or Ma’am!) I just looked at a box. I stand corrected. It sure is yummy, though....
I wish I could find some.
“that fake pre-grated collection of salts and fats they call Parmesan-in-a-can” is a great invention. It lasts almost as long as fruit cake and Twinkies and comes pre-grated. The Eyetalians are just jealous they didn’t think of it first!
It’s real parmesan, but with sawdust added to keep it from caking.
Tillamook won best in the world medium cheddar two years ago. Yesterday they won best in the world for their colby.
I’ve gotten hooked on three-year old Gouda and can’t shake it.
Especially mixed with Rotel, some extra jalapenos and chopped bacon, on a tortilla chip.
Indeed. The classic Rotel/Salsa party dip recipe. The bacon is a nice touch! Sure-fire hit. Nothing microwave melts like Velveeta. The cheese snobs can go hang, Velveeta has its place.
I’ve been to Tillamook and I’m not surprised. In addition to the wonderful sharpness there’s a richness that just feels almost sinful. Quite a great cheese. BTW, there’s a chowder house a few miles north of Tillamook that’s served me about the best oyster stew I’ve ever had as well. I think I put on five pounds that day.
I perfected my home recipe for lasagna when I had steady access to really good cheese in Europe.
We GIs split wheels/rounds amongst our households to make it more affordable, and any time anyone traveled to various European countries, the informal orders were placed to bring something special back to share!
Kind of slightly black marketish, but it was not entirely technically illegal over there due, to the special diplomatic-ish immunity supply chain...
Try to get your hands on real USA Commodity cheese.
The taste and texture will spoil your tastebuds for real “American cheese”, but it was/is impossible to legally purchase at any grocery store.
Tillamook cheddar is pretty darn good stuff. I’m not sure the orange color is all natural (naturally orange cheddar is due to minerals in the grasses in particular locales) but the outfit belongs to the dairy farmers of Tillamook county and the west slope in Oregon is about the best dairy grazing land in the world (in my not so humble opinion). Tillamook usually (but not always) has a very fine texture and that really makes it for me. It was my “home cheese” for almost my whole life so it is also a comfort food. Here in NM we have to pay a premium for it.
I agree that parmesean in the can is awful stuff-bleh...
Sweet cheeses! The puns....
There used to be a lively black market in commodity cheese, and it is the quintessential American Cheese, imho. I haven't seen any around in over a decade.
I was unable to distinguish the one from the other.
I was also unable to find much similarity between the fine products of Smithfield, VA and the so-called "Virginian Ham" in Australia.
I suppose I could have been offended, like these cheesy eurotrash and their American imitators ...
Instead, I was amused ... and emailed pictures of the stuff back home, for the amusement of friends and family.
Having tried Parmigiano-Reggiano, I can confidently say that powdery substance in the green canister is NOT parmesan.
Personally, I don’t give Edam.