Filed under: Cheese Thoughts
Author: Kate Bartholomew
Boy, Howdy – it’s a good thing to check one’s OWN links once in a while. There, just sitting nonchalantly in the right-hand menu bar, I have a link to Cheese.com. This site has a database of 652 cheeses from forty-eight countries (yes, even Iceland makes notable cheese). It’s just festive fromage fun!!! I’d say the main drawback of the site is that they don’t have pictures of the various cheeses in their database; you must use your dairy imagination. However, you can play the “find the funniest name of a cheese” game (it’s sweeping the nation – don’t kid yourself). Go to the “Alphabetical listing of Cheeses” and browse away. Here are a few that made me laugh (at least in the wee hours of the morning) and their descriptions:
- Aromes au Gene de Marc: [French] Traditional, unpasteurized, natural-rind cheese made from cow’s and goat’s milk. It has a small round shape. The white rind has some moulds. The cheese is made in various wine-making areas, some two or three months after the grapes have been pressed. The cheese has a strong, bittersweet, yeasty taste and aroma. When young, the cheese is moist and creamy. With age , the cheese becomes hard and flaky, with a pungent taste. It should be eaten with wine.
So this is a traditional fromage that stinks of “Gene of Marc” or Gene or Marc,” which, according to the description have a “strong, bittersweet, yeasty taste and aroma?” It’s true that my French is less than adequate, but it certainly sounds like that’s what it means. I must agree that anything that has such an odor of men MUST be eaten with wine. OODLES of wine.
- Bra: [Italian] Traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese which has a round shape. The cheese is named after place where it was originally sold. There exist two types of Bra. The traditional, hard version that ripens for three to six months. The color darkens and the flavor intensifies. The other type is sold young, at 45 days, when the paste is still soft. This version is made from pasteurized milk. Bra is used as a table cheese, but also for grating and melting.
A cheese with a “round shape” named “bra.” Need I say more?
- Pant ys Gawn: Pant ys Gawn is a Welsh cheese from the region called Monmouthshire. It ranks among vegetarian cheeses and is made from goat’s milk. This small, delightful cheese has a fresh, citrus flavour with a tantalizing suggestion of tarragon. There are several varieties of the cheese, with mixed herbs, cracked black peppercorns, and garlic and chives. It is a table cheese suitable for snacks, grilling, spreading or in salads.
I honestly am trying not to go for the obvious, vaguely-bawdy interpretation of everything, but this TRULY sounds like “Pant’s gone” to me. A “small, delightful cheese” to enjoy without one’s trousers? Ideal for “Pants-Free Wednesday,” perhaps.
- Quark: Traditional, creamery, vegetarian, fresh cheese made from cow’s milk. It is moist, white cheese sold in pots. It has a light taste and a smooth and soft texture. Quark simply means “curd” in German and the cheese is said to date from the Iron Age. Quark can be made from whole, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk or even buttermilk. Soft and moist, like a cross between yogurt and fromage frais, it should taste lemon-fresh. Some versions have skimmed milk powder added and can be rather gritty. This cheese ripens within a few days.
So “quark” means “curd” auf Deutsch. I thought the astro-nuclear-physicists, or whoever makes up the super-scientific sub-atomic particle names, did, indeed, INVENT the term “Quark.” But, NO, they stole the name from a German cheese or the curd, thereof.
- Stinking Bishop: Stinking Bishop is a vegetarian cheese that comes from England, Gloucestershire. This cheese was created by Charles Martell. It is similar to Munster and is washed and rubbed with perry, an alcoholic drink made with a local variety of pear called “Stinking Bishop”. It has a meaty flavour and the fat content is 48%. The affinage takes from six to eight weeks.
I contend that “Stinking Bishop” should be the “fromage de choix” for any self-respecting romantic assignation. (“Darling – please peel me a grape and feed me some of that delectable Stinking Bishop…”) It would be MUCH too obvious a choice to bring to any sort of church event.
- Xanadu: Old Greek cheese known from then ancient times became quite popular among southern workers in the end of 19th century. Made of feta and kasseri combining the whey of mizithra to create perfect blend. Due to its transient properties this cheese was served only aged beyond 14 months and only in semi-circular molds often dubbed geometric half-moons. Unfortunately this cheese did not catch on in the states. Heavily used by the Union to feed its troops during the Civil War Union troops quickly grew tired of the staple. After defeating the South in this epic battle Union troops forbade the consumption of xanadu cheese in the conquered south. Its production immediately declined and fell out of existence. Only recent discoveries have revealed the recipe used for this concoction. Trendy coffee shops in upstate New York have started a fad of serving xanadu cheese with special Bavarian coffees.
I really don’t know quite what to say about this one. It would be much funnier without the somewhat depressing Civil War connection. Nontheless, if Xanadu is a cheese, and Xanadu is one of the cheesiest movies ever, where does that leave the trendy coffee shops in upstate New York? Note: I have never actually seen Xanadu in its entirety, but I had a roommate (a dear friend – even afterwards) who listened non-stop to the Xanadu soundtrack and Barry Manilow albums.