Wednesday, August 8, 2007

How Do I Love Cheese? Let Me Count The Whey.

Cheese is one of the great foods to be eaten that is, by and large, ignored by Americans. Don't get me wrong. We love cheese, but we don't love cheese.

When someone from Italy or France says cheese, they refer to a massive family of soft, hard, goat's, cow's, dessert, or dinner cheeses. When an American says cheese, they mean Cheddar or American or some yellow-orange, viscous fluid that's poured over fries or chips. The American palate for cheese sucks.

I must admit, I may be writing this lament a bit late, what with advancements made by things like the Food Channel. And I do credit the Food Channel with this. I think its creation has fostered a wave of culinary exploration not seen in America since the soldiers brought back foods from Europe after the war. Where the cheese aisle in my local grocery store once shelved nothing but Cracker Barrel in all its four varieties, and a wide selection of various cheddars, it has expanded to offer over one hundred different cheeses from all over the globe.

I can tell that the mass of those who enter the store never explore the cheese section fully, but they're selling enough to warrant the large display. I think this is great. I know that America isn't the worst offender when it comes to culinary isolationism, but we're bad in just about every other way. We need to make ourselves look good to other countries somehow. We drive around in our rolling boats, speak only one language, can't dress to save our lives, and can, I think, be blamed for the 1980's. By turning our entire country into a land of gourmets, we'll finally have something to laugh about when some Frenchie refuses to eat a taco.

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