XLV – Say Cheese!

Something that almost everyone likes in one form or another is cheese. Okay, if you’re lactose intolerant, it’ll give you serious stomach problems. Then there are those who choose a food lifestyle that doesn’t allow for the consumption of cheese, like vegans. To each their own, I say👍. I’m not into the debate about those choices. I’m talking about cheese.

Cheese comes from the milk of various animals: cow, goat, sheep, and even reindeer, water buffalo and yak (weird, but whatever). Then there’s other stuff added to eventually make it cheese. Some are made in factories, others (like Parmigiano-Reggiano) are made using strict guidelines and rules, in certain regions of countries, such as Italy.

Enough of that. Now, it’s about what I consider good cheese. I can’t say I’m a cheese connoisseur, as I don’t eat a lot of exotic cheeses. I’ve never tried anything like Brie or Muenster. On several occasions when I visited Brazil, I did eat a couple of cheeses they have there that you can’t find here. For example, there’s a kind of squeaky cheese in the Northeast of Brazil that’s called queijo coalho. It can be eaten raw or grilled. When cooked, it doesn’t melt easily, but turns golden. I liked it, but for some, it’s an acquired taste.

Back here in the States, my choices for cheese, when available are Swiss, Monterey Jack, Colby, Colby Jack, Provolone and Cheddar (from Mild to Extra Sharp, they’re good). Natural cheese is the way to go. Even the bagged shredded cheese works for me. There is one type of cheese-like product lurking out there that some people swear by, but I feel has no place in any kitchen: that plastic, stinky-when-heated, artificial crap called “American cheese”. For some ungodly reason, some people swear by it. Oh, but it melts so beautifully. Yeah, whatever. It melts the way it does because it’s not real cheese! There are cheese solids in it, yes, as it’s a mixture of Cheddar or Colby and emulsifiers, oils and other shit I can’t pronounce. If you ever heat up American “cheese”, it has a god-awful stench to it, somewhere in the realm of morning breath. Fast food places swear by it, in fact, it’s the only cheese option they have generally. That’s because it’s cheap (because it ain’t real cheese!) and it melts the way it does. People seem to like that gooey, fake crap on their burgers. But if a person has a choice between different kinds of real cheese, why on god’s green Earth would someone willingly choose that American shit? Especially in scrambled eggs? Blecch🤮! I’m going to let you in on a little secret. At my work, when someone wants cheese in their eggs, be it Colby, Swiss or Jack, we cook the cheese on the grill, melting it into the eggs. If you, for some crazy reason, opt for American, we’ll microwave a slice onto the cooked eggs. That American crap makes a mess of the grill on which we cook the eggs (which is separate from the main grill, because they’re at way different temperatures). Melted American on our egg grill is a damn-near impossibility to get clean. So we avoid the hassle and mess of it in the first place.

Then there’s that rectangular cube of Play-Doh-resembling fake cheese…um, how can I call it…putty?…loaf? Anyway, it’s Velveeta. It’s a nasty-ass blob that, when microwaved, turns into a bowl of molten cheese-like goo that some mix with other stuff to make nacho cheese. Ew. Or, as the Valley Girls used to say in the 1980s, “Like, gag me!” Ermahgerd. Did you know that Velveeta pre-dates American slices? And that American slices “just” came into existence in 1950, but it wasn’t until 1965 that they began to be individually wrapped? If you want to know the history of Velveeta, go look it up on Wikipedia. Anywho, why anyone would mix Velveeta and Ro-Tel to make nacho cheese or a cheese dip, instead of using real, shredded cheese is way beyond me. Perhaps my taste buds are not adapted to eating such god-awful culinary travesties. Maybe I’m just a hater. Who knows? Of course, this coming from a guy who hates marshmallows and rice, but will eat Rice Krispies treats🤷‍♂️, or who lives in Utah, but despises root beer or that horrid condiment called fry sauce—which, for those not living in Utah, is on its most basic level, a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise (think Heinz’s “Mayo-Chup”). I swear, the most-consumed condiments in Utah are ketchup, fry sauce and ranch dressing. Ranch has its place for certain uses, but for a salad, give me blue cheese anytime. That nice, chunky blue cheese. Hell, the more chunks of blue cheese in the dressing, the better. Know what’s really good that I had a while back? A burger that used blue cheese crumbles instead of sliced cheese. Yum🤤! Okay, some out there don’t like blue cheese. Some think it tastes like soap. Some are allergic to it because of the mold in it. I get that. Everyone has their preferences, and I don’t disabuse anyone of their opinions on food.

Something else I’ve seen, but never quite understood is the thing in the Upper Midwest/New England of putting cheddar cheese on an apple pie. Or just having cheese and apple slices. I’ve had peanut butter with banana, and that’s decent, but apples and cheese? I would never be caught dead putting savory cheese on my sweet apple pie à la mode. Whipped cream, sure. But cheese? Can someone enlighten me as to why in the hell one would do that? I never understood the “sweet and savory” or “sweet and spicy” flavor combination thing. I guess my taste buds aren’t sophisticated like that. Again, I refer to the whole food hater thing I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago.

Of course, I’m not even going to go into the whole, completely fake vegan cheese substitutes that are out there. Those slices that are meant to resemble different kinds of cheese in taste and color. If you’re into that stuff, knock yourselves out. Me? I’ll just stick to my real, dairy-based, full-fat cheese that is greasy when it melts and actually tastes good (and doesn’t reek to high heaven when heated).

What can I say, I like cheese. I even like to cut a wedge off a block of cheddar for a little snack. I could never sit and munch an entire block of cheese in one sitting, though. That would give me some serious constipation!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my cheesy thoughts this week. 🎶Sweet dreams are made of cheese, who am I to dis a Brie? I cheddar the world and the feta cheese…🎶 Sing that to the tune of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics. Please don’t tease or sneeze on my cheese! Fine, enough cheesy puns for one week. Until next week, with another interesting entry in the world of my rants, be safe and be well.

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