Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tasteful Tuesday -- Cheese

I’m a bit of a cheese freak. Now, as a good Southern girl, I was pretty limited in my cheese tastes growing up: American, Swiss, Cheddar, Mozzarella, pre-grated Parmesan, and Colby. Maybe some brie on occasion, but that big display of cheese at the fancy grocery store never really warranted a second glance.

Then I moved to the UK, and a whole new cheese world opened up for me. At first, I felt like the biggest hick in the universe ("what do you mean “American” isn’t a real kind of cheese?”) But then my cheese education began, and I’ve become one of those people who will spend $10 on a wedge of Parmesan cheese and grate it myself.

I could eat Boursin on bagels for breakfast, a white cheddar paired with apples for lunch, a hot, melty brie and strawberries for dessert, and creamy Camembert with just about anything, any time. A steak with a gorgonzola crust may make your arteries clang closed in protest, but your tongue will be happy! The Playfriends (except for Angel) love my Emmenthaler and Gruyere fondue. (And I’m looking for a fondue recipe that will satisfy all the Playfriends.)

I’ll eat goat cheese on just about anything, and honestly, I’d probably eat dirt if you mixed it with Neufchatel. Marscopone, ricotta, cottage – bring it on.

My appreciation of stinky cheeses is very limited, and I’m still on the fence about many of the “blue”-type cheeses. DG loves smoked cheeses, but, to me, barbeque should be smoked – not cheese. So, my cheese love is not absolute or without bounds. But there are still plenty of cheeses left for me to discover, and trust me, that’s a journey I look forward to!

I’m not ignorant of the downside to cheese; it can be high in fat, cholesterol and sodium, and therefore not the Heart Association’s Most Favorite Food. Soft, unpasteurized cheeses can also carry harmful bacteria. If you’re lactose-intolerant, cheese is probably not your best friend.

But cheese *is* a good-for-you food. It has high levels of calcium, phosphorous, and protein, and contains vitamins A, B-12, and D. Your bones and teeth are the obvious beneficiaries of cheese, but there is also some evidence that makes cheese a player in helping with hypertension, liver function, and even cancer prevention.

My Southern roots need not fear, though, because there is one cheese that many will turn their noses up at (and really isn’t even “cheese” by definition), but that I will never be able to forswear – no matter how refined my cheese palate becomes:
Good old Velveeta. You can’t beat Velveeta when it comes to pure melty-ness, and melty-ness is very important when it comes to making macaroni-and-cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and, of course, that party staple, Ro-Tel Dip.

So, are you a cheese freak? A cheese snob? Anti-cheese for some reason? Do share with the Playground…


**For more information than you could ever want, visit Cheese.com, a website that will educate you on everything from rind type to what cheese goes well with beer. It also links to places that will deliver cheese to your door and has a huge recipe database.


Jane said...

I love cheese, but definitely not a snob. I like the simple stuff on my burgers and sandwiches like Cheddar, American and Colby Jack. My latest cheese obsession is Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs spread.

Maven Linda said...

I love, love, love brie. Also love pepper jack, and last week I made macaroni and cheese with pepper jack instead of cheddar (or Velveeta) and developed what could be a new obsession. Double yum. Like feta, love bleu. I've never tried a stinky cheese because . . . well . . . they're STINKY. You want me to try something, you don't call it stinky.

Alicia Hunter Pace (aka Jean Hovey and Stephanie Jones) said...

There's a pepper jack flavored Velveeta now. It's really good in grits.

Playground Monitor said...

These days I mostly eat part-skim mozarella because well... it's part skim. But I do love other cheeses except the stinky ones.

I haven't bought any Velveeta in ages but developed an appreciation for it when we lived overseas and couldn't get pimento cheese. So I'd make my own with Velveeta, chopped pimentoes and enough mayonnaise to hold it all together.

You forgot one of the South Beach diet staples -- Laughing Cow. And there's cream cheese too. #2 son's fave snack is cream cheese and Fritos.

Playground Monitor said...

ACK. Forgot to say I've been to Gouda where they make the cheese of the same name. I like that kind too.

Kira Sinclair - AKA Instigator said...

I love cheese. I really love cheese fondue. :-) Although, I do not like blue cheese. Shrugs. It's too tangy for me I think.

I would like Lynn's mac and cheese recipe... That was really yummy.


Linda Winstead Jones said...

I grew up with Velveeta, American, and the occasional foray into Cheddar or Gouda. Now I love all kinds of cheese. I used to turn my nose up at Bleu Cheese and Goat Cheese, and now I love them both. And Brie -- is there anything better? Love Pepper Jack, and Provolone. I never tried a stinky cheese because they're, well, stinky.


catslady said...

I am a semi-snob when it comes to cheese lol. I'm Italian so I know those cheeses pretty well - the older the better. We usually have Romano or Asiago every night with dinner. My husband is French so he has introduced me to a lot of the smelly cheeses lol. I'm learning to enjoy brie and of course boursin but I tell him some of the really "good" ones are wasted on me.

Andrea Laurence AKA Smarty Pants said...

I love cheese. Almost any kind. Pepperjack, white cheddar, parmareggiano... Cheese rocks. I introduced my whole family to goat cheese at Christmas when I made aspersgus wrapped in goat cheese and prosciutto. Yum.

I do not like blue cheeses, however. I gag if I accidentally consume it. I'm also afraid of cheeses with a rind, but I'm working on it.

Problem Child said...

I <3 Boursin too, Jane. It's addictive (and it was on sale at Costco a couple of weeks ago. I stocked up!)

Love Laughing Cow too (although we are pretentious around here and call it by it's French name)-- and the little wedges get points for being cute and easy to pack in AC's lunchbox!

Cheese every night, catslady? You're living my dream!

And PM, Neufchatel and Philly taste a lot alike, and Philly makes life worth living!

And SP is afraid of cheese with a rind... hmm, we'll have to call Counselor Shelley...

Sherry Werth said...

Cheese lover here too! Some of my favorites are pepper jack, smoky swiss, bleu and feta. I would love to try different varieties but the selection in my town is sorta limited. May have to stop in one of the bigger stores on my next shopping trip. :D

Caroline said...

We go through a ton of cheese in this house! If it's not us humans eating it, then it's the dogs! They love the stuff. I have to disguise their dried dog food with grated cheese otherwise they won't eat it! Sad I know, but there you go. Take care. Caroline x

Angel said...

We eat lots of cheese around here too, though to PC's Geek's dismay most of ours is pre-shredded cheddar. Why should I shred it to put in stuff if they'll do the work for me and it is cheaper too? But I have developed a fondness for pepper jack and colby, swiss on sandwiches. I like feta on salads. No blue cheeses, stinky cheeses, or the like. Afraid I'm a velveeta-loving hick.

My in-laws introduced my daughter to a weird smelling organic white goat cheese that she loves, but even my blue cheese-loving husband turned his nose up at it. At $7 a pop, she can have it solely at her grandparents house...


gigi said...

I like cheese in recipes. I am not one to just eat it by the wedge. That would be my husband and his family. He even eats cheddar cheese with pound cake. eewwwwww.
I like sweet things better like, chocolate.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I'm a little late here, but I had to chime in. Cheese is one of my favorite foods. If you can combine it with good bread, even better.

Provolone in sandwiches, sharp cheddar on almost anything savory (even with dill pickles), and havarti melted on sourdough are just a few combos I crave.

I just discovered Dubliner at my mother-in-law's house over the holidays, and I'm totally smitten. It's like cheddar and parmesan with a hint of swiss. Delicious!

Why am I suddenly so hungry? ;-)