Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cheesewech Babble

So first, let me say a hearty "Thank You" to all of you guys for your comments. I absolutely love reading them. The only complaint I have is sometimes they make me think of other things and then I go to write a comment and the comment is too long because I won't stop writing and then it has to become a whole new post, and I should be watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart because he's talking to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but I can't because I have to get this post out of my system. Phew! I would like to nominate this paragraph for longest run-on sentence. Ever.

I agree with both Lo and Simone. There are great artisan cheeses being made right here in the U.S.A. In addition, I do not want anyone to exclude any cheese based on where it's from. There are great cheeses all around the world, especially and perhaps obviously, in Europe.

Of course I am partial to "American Cheese". For what seemed like eons there was just supermarket cheese. If I see one more "Brie" in puff pastry next to the poppin' fresh dough I might flip my lid. You might have been able to find some goat cheese at a farmer's market if you lived in a place where a farmers market existed (big thank you to Alice Waters for being a proponent for change). Other than that, if you wanted "real cheese" you went to a restaurant and maybe, just maybe they'd have something. Usually it was a Brie or Camembert, maybe a Gruyere, Cheddar or blue of some sort.

It's only recently that American Cheese has meant something other than individually wrapped slices of cheese food that tastes like bleh and smells like nothing. How exciting that so many cheesemakers are making great product. It's wonderful. I mean, there is great artisan cheese going on all over this country.

The problem I have is that people will still come in and say that they don't like American Cheese. Grrrrr. How people can say that baffles me. Take a look at Cowgirl Creamery. They're one of the more well known cheesemakers here. They make Red Hawk. A triple cream washed rind cheese. Or Great Hill Blue out of MA. Or Green Hill from Sweet Grass Dairy out in Georgia. So many different cheeses to choose from.

I need to pull back a bit. I get really excited about this though. There are so many good cheeses out there and because of negative connotations, people are afraid to try American Cheese. that being said, sometimes you just need a good hunk of Stichelton from GB, or a Gouda from the Netherlands. Just don't disregard the cheeses here in the states is all I ask.

Now here's a little something a wee bit silly because that's the kind of gal I am. In Wisconsin there is a woman named Marieke. She moved here from the Netherlands in 2002 and has been making great American cheeses since. No, that's not the silly part. There are a select group of people who are fans of the Wisconsin football team the Green Bay Packers. They call themselves cheeseheads. They put ridiculous things on their heads and cheer on the third best team in the league. Go Bears! Go Giants! I am sure that this is not what you meant at all. Marieke and Rolf must have been quite shocked upon meeting Wisconsin "cheeseheads".


Simone (junglefrog) said...

Haha... you're wisconsin cheeseheads look... well, nothing like our cheeseheads! :) Imagine the whole of the Netherlands walking around with cheese on their heads. Now that would be a sight!
Over here it has also become increasingly populair to have various 'homemade' cheeses, rather then the regular packaged supermarket cheese. I've recently visited a goatcheese farm for a photo project I was working on and that was just fantastic to see how they handmake all those lovely cheese and in soooo many varieties I didn't even know existed! I followed them around for a day so I watched the entire process from milking the goats early in the morning, till having the finished product in it's varying stages.
I did smell of goatcheese for the next few days after coming back home though.. Or it might have been the various cheeses I brought home with me. Imagine the disgust of my other half...!

Cheesewench said...

In September of last year I went on a field trip to Prairie Fruits Farm here in Illinois. That goaty smell just does not like to come off!

Fiona Beckett wrote a post on her blog last month lamenting the sad state of affairs in the French cheese world. It seems that they are becoming more and more industrial.

I'm happy to hear that not European nations are going this route. That truly would be a shame.

your photos on your blog are absolutely gorgeous!

Lo said...

Cheeseheads... gotta love it.
But, no. They don't exactly speak to the idea of artisan cheese. :)

A sad by-product of the history of "American Cheese" is that most people expect to see cheese packaged in heinous "foodsavered" packages that suck the life out of any self-respecting cheese.

I, for one, LOVE entering a shop where the cheese is respected as a living, breathing organism. Can't have that ALL the time (or afford it)... but I look forward to the day where there will be a cheese shop on MY corner.

T. said...

On the subject of American artisanal cheeses...wondering if you've tried Bailey Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont? It WAS my favorite blue until I discovered...STICHELTON!!! :) The Bailey Hazen is different - drier, a little earthier, but excellent in its own right (probably the best blue produced in the U.S.). Stichelton's the king, though.

Cheesewench said...

Bayley Hazen Blue is a lovely lovely cheese. Jasper Hill is doing some wonderful things for small farms, and even some big ones (cabot).

JHF is awesome!