Cheese at its most basic is a dairy by-product made by forming curds of milk. There are typically a number of metrics used to define any particular cheese: texture, hardness, milk used, curdling method, region, rind, color, and aging process. As one may surmise from the wide range of characteristics of cheeses, cheese varies widely, examples below.
Types of cheese
- Cheddar cheese, for example, is a semi-hard cheese made from cow's milk, the curds being formed with calf stomach rennet (or other rennet if it’s Vegetarian Cheddar), pressed for a period of time in a mould, and left to age anywhere from 3 to 12 months; occasionally, it's given a yellow to orange color with annatto prior to forming. (Incidentally, "cheddar" also refers to the resulting texture. Americans have managed to mimic the texture, but often fuck up the taste royally by pasteurizing their milk. Hence, despite the rare good batch of raw-milk cheddar that might be found in the American dairy industry, it's a safe bet to just go and buy PDO British vintage cheddar.)
- Manchego viejo, on the other hand, is a hard, white, sheep's milk cheese that hails from the Castilla-La Mancha region of Spain. The curds are made with lamb rennet paste, formed into wheels, and cured for 1 year, at which point it is known as Manchego curado. Manchego viejo is futher aged for at least 3 months more, during which time it dries while its flavor is further developed. The rind might or might not become apparently mouldy, but once aging is complete, the rind is removed and the cheese doused in extra virgin olive oil. A good manchego viejo has a nutty flavor characteristic of well-aged cheeses, but also has a vaguely peppery character to it.
- Brie, in contrast, is a bloomy rind, soft, young cheese. Brie does not exist in America. What passes for brie has a similar rind, but quite literally none of the flavor. Don't bother looking for real raw-milk French Brie unless you want to get creative and risk losing money to confiscation and perhaps even fines; the FDA has made raw-milk cheeses aged under 30 days illegal to even possess. It's a well-established fact that the misguided and downright stupid Conservatives heading the FDA are trying to ruin cheese in America out of a paranoid fear of Listeria, completely ignoring that Listeria outbreaks are worse in the US than in countries embracing raw milk, for the simple reason that flora naturally present in milk outcompete Listeria. But, there is hope!
- Nevat is a bloomy rind goat's milk cheese from the Catalonia region of Spain, also made with raw milk. Strictly speaking, this is also contraband, but the feds are so paranoid about the French that Spanish stuff slips through without much trouble.
- Vacherin is a creamy bloomy rind cow's milk cheese from Switzerland. This one also slips through easily, since the feds not only focus on France, but further don't realize that there's more to Swiss cheese than the Emmentaler that was so cheaply knocked off in America. Plus, it makes for a dead-simple and downright fucking delicious fondue, served right in the rind.
Mind you, the above is an extremely small sample of cheeses, but it's easy to see two patterns here.
- American cheese tastes like plastic compared to the real stuff in Europe, and gives a very false sense of safety. (It's all the more reason to import cheese along with your beer and your wine.)
- Conservatives hate the French, to the point that nigh everything not French gets by without them noticing.
Cheese has also come under criticism in recent years, as apparent cheese-related deaths have resulted in a debate for the banning of cheese. While Republicans were for the cheese ban, Democrats were against it, although some said, "If you ban cheese, then you'll have to bring in gun control." Republicans then backed down.