Friday, January 25, 2008

READERS CHOICE TOPIC 1: Cheese

Before I start talking about cheese, let it be known that this is not a historical or encyclopedia type look at cheese, rather, a simple observation on my part.

Cheese, an important part of life. Cheese of course comes from milk which comes from the cow's teet. So like the divine sun and rain that feed the grass, we must acknowledge that the cow is also divine and therefore all products that are born forth from it divine in their own right. Therefore, I would argue, cheese is an extension of heaven itself. A simple thank you to the bacteria and fungal molds that ferment the cheese is also necessary.

Cheese comes in many forms. Its just a word to describe many things. There is cow cheese, goat cheese, bleu cheese, sharp cheese, mild cheese, cream cheese, moldy cheese and many other cheeses. I am not going to go into an analysis of how it's made or the varieties of cheese. I would rather like to canvass the many ways in which cheese affects our daily life.

Lets start with a personal experience. Cheese was solely responsible for my survival the last year of my college life. If you didn't know it, you can create many dishes as long as you have a block of cheese. Quasidillas are a simple application of cheese to a tortilla, fried or microwaved. Also in this category, nachos. Bread, butter, cheese and soup make a delicious toasted cheese sandwich and soup meal. Cheese can be added to the top of a bowl of chili to give it that extra oomph it needs to not be just another bowl of chili. Cheese, oh dear cheese, can be added to scrambled eggs to give them that stretchy cheesy appeal we all love so much.
Cheese can be put on french fries with gravy to make a popular Canadian dish Poutine. And last but not least, cheese on a couple slices of bread with some mayo and mustard isn't that bad either, would you turn down a cheese sandwich if you were broke? I didn't think so.

Cheese isn't just a food anymore. Its an image, a lifestyle and also a flavoring. Green Bay Packers fans are known as cheese heads. They actually wear slices of cheese on their heads and root on their favorite gladiators of the gridiron. I find no fault in this, but a simple admiration for a group of people that have recognized the sacred nature of our curdled milk originating friend.

I'm not sure where the term "cheesy" came from, but it can often be applied to a person's demeanor, clothing or overall impression. Everyone has a cheesy neighbor, cousin or uncle. Everyone knows a person at work who never really got the whole fashion thing and still thinks mock turtle necks are cool. I would say though, that these people did not earn the distinction of being cheese like because cheese is cool, delicious and hip, they, in fact, are not and are actually being given a compliment far beyond what their late 70's end tables and puke green rug should have received. I personally feel we should end the mistreatment of the word cheesy, so from now on replace it with 'tacky' in your vocabulary.

Sometimes people Cut the Cheese. You know what this means, Farts. Cheese does not smell like the methane gas that puffs out of your butt when you flatulate. I don't know why cheese got this distinction but its rude.

Cheese is the perfect word to say when you are posing for a picture. It aligns your face in a natural smile so that you look happy. "Say Cheese" didn't just appear, its a proven fact that saying this phrase produces top notch expressions in photographs.

If you are the head of a business, you could be the Big Cheese. If you get called the Big Cheese feel lucky, a big block of cheese is a wonderful thing.

In Baseball pitchers are often encouraged by fans and teammates to give the batter the "High Stinky Cheddar." This simply means that the pitcher should give him a high fastball that is irresistible to swing at and also impossible to hit. I often struck out as a child on the ol' High Stinky Cheddar pitch.

Cheese is a flavoring, not natural, but synthetic. Flavor scientists have slaved for months to perfect the synthetic equivalent of the satisfying flavor of cheese. "Cheese-Its" crackers, "Nacho Cheese" flavored chips, Cheese dusted popcorn, melted fake cheese, Velveeta, and American cheese, and let us not forget Cheetos all ride the immense and spacious coat tails and wake left behind by the legendary trail blazed by cheese.

Pizza is nothing without cheese. And, who eats just a plain hamburger anyway? Enough said on those topics.

Long have people admired and enjoyed the combination of Wine and Cheese. When these two natural companions get together, you know that some yuppies, French people, or someone with and accent are not far away. Wine and cheese isn't just enjoyed by the upper class, rather, the level of quality of said wine and said cheese simply reflects the level of economic standing in life. Therefore, cheese quality is actually a keystone marker of social status in the world. What kind of cheese do you eat?

One band has even named themselves after a type of cheese. The String Cheese Incident is a popular electro-bluegrass-jamband with a Phish or Grateful Dead like following. If I am not mistaken the name comes from the fact that everywhere they go (an incident) is like pulling another strand from a stick of string cheese. It is no surprise that I quite enjoy the music of SCI. Consequently, their fan base are called FOC otherwise known as Friends Of Cheese. I would argue that we all belong to that club.

Cheese has a medical effect. Sometimes, lets be honest, we eat food that results in, how can I put this delicately, a less than solid or pleasant exit from our bodies. My dad called this unfortunate condition the "Hershey Squirts" or the "Green Apple Splatters." Cheese is an awesome solution to diarrhea, a natural solidifier of life if you will. Beware, like alcohol or sun, too much cheese could back you up like the I-5 corridor during Friday Rush Hour. It is high in cholesterol as well, so practice your cheese enjoyment in moderation people, don't abuse the cheese.

I think that is why most of us in the know love cheese. Its solid. Its like the food Rock of Gibralter that we break ourselves upon. Only one group of people will never know the joys of cheese, the lactose intolerant. What creator would curse a human with such a scornful condition as to render their bodies unable to process dairy products. If I were lactose intolerant I would scream to the skies "You smited me oh mighty smiter!"

It has even been proven that cheese, a tryptophan rich food, aids and induces positive effects on sleep, not nightmares as the old wive's tale suggests. The British Cheese Board even found in a study in 2005 on 200 people that the type of cheese you eat affects the types of dreams you have! I think those old wives that made up those tales were just hoarding the cheese for themselves.

Apparently mice love cheese, but who wouldn't. I don't know if there is any scientific evidence to support whether or not mice prefer cheese to other foods but I wouldn't doubt it.

America produces the most cheese per year in the world (4125 metric tons), but does not export nearly any proving that Americans love their own cheese. The French rank highest in international cheese export, the value of which ranks in the several of millions of dollars. But surprisingly, above all nations, the Greek love their cheese the most, consuming 27.3 kilograms of cheese a year per person. Any Greek readers out there that can explain this phenomenon?


Cheese is part of the global community. I don't think I'm out of line in saying that Cheese is the tie that binds us together as humans. Cheese predates written history. It is part of our DNA. Cheese is holy. Next time you enjoy cheese maybe you'll think twice about it.

I hope you enjoyed the first READERS CHOICE TOPIC 1. I think I have proven the point that I can write about anything if you give me the chance so KEEP VOTING OKEY DOKEY?

By the way I used the word cheese 83 times in this piece.

8 comments:

kmc said...

Holy cheese post, batman. I mean, holey swiss cheese. (HA!) I think I just spent twenty minutes reading about what is essentially mold? Yes. I read the whole thing..which I feel ridiculous for. I can't wait to see what you can do with triceratops. triceratopses? Why wouldn't they have won? Who are these readers of yours anyway? anyhow thank you for being ridiculous. I'm going to go have a dance party with Jon and stevie wonder in our apartment.
-katie

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed with your ability to write about anything including cheese. I am with Katie though. I voted for Triceratops. Mom

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed with your ability to write about anything including cheese. I am with Katie though. I voted for Triceratops. Mom

alisha said...

I think that's the longest post you've ever written...and all about cheese! I do have to admit, cheese is an amazing food. Anything tastes better with cheese on it. ANYTHING!

When I was in Spain, I thought it was funny that instead of saying cheese when a picture is taken(because the word for cheese is queso), they say "whiskeeeey!" Which has the same effect and is quite a bit more fun. Those Spaniards..they love their whiskey. Also in Spain, they have this one kind of cheese that the wrap in the uterus of a goat or lamb or cow and then they bury it in a dark, damp cave for 20 months or something crazy like that. And then they eat it!

I appreciate your kind reference to cheeseheads, of which I am one. As long as I've know what football was, I've been a cheesehead. I do have one of those cheesehead hats too. I got it when I went to a game last season.

I used to work at a pizza place and one of my coworkers was lactose intolerant. Whenever we made pizzas for ourselves, we would leave a portion of it without cheese. I agree that not being able to eat cheese would be terrible, but not being able to eat ice cream...oh man, that would be hell!

The best part of your post was when you said that cheese if a part of our DNA. It seems that whenever you are really excited about something, then it must be genetically ingrained in our DNA. Music I can see maybe being a part of our DNA, but cheese? :)

I voted for cheese and am glad I did, it was completely entertaining. And for next week...Kevin Costner? Where do you come up with this stuff? Priceless.

Anonymous said...

Kale,
did you know you can put people and their personalities to cheese?!?

Its true, if you think about it. One of our long car rides down in Florida, Chris happened to look back at Alex who was four at the time and said, "Alex if you were cheese, you would be gouda cheese. Because you are so gouuuuddddaaa!"

This of course got both of us having one of our 'highly' engaging conversations about cheese and who would this person be and why.

Just to give a few examples of how this works, think about the person-who they are, what they look like, how they act, etc. Okay, then think about cheese and different types.
-My step mom, very religious-so I figured she would be 'swiss cheese'. (holy)
-My dad (who I love) who be bleu cheese, old and moldy. You would have to know my dad. :O)
-Me, monzeralla (sp?) of course, because my skin coloring is so pale and white when I'm not in the sun.
-Chris, this one was easy, government cheese. Everyone likes it. And its cheap-like him.... :O)

So cheese isn't just to enjoy, it can also be used to describe people.

HMMMMMMMMMM, what kind of cheese would you be Kale??? :O)
Have a good wkend, (i think i'm going to have some cheese and crackers now)yum.
Jen

Anonymous said...

Dont show the high cheese it could make me sit down

halsky said...

Nice. I love me some cheese. First off, how could people pick cheese or triceratopses over gnomes? seriously. Also if anyone is looking for an exceptional queso that can be found in any supermarket, I suggest Tillamook vintage edition extra sharp white cheddar. It comes in dark package. That is ofcourse second to any type of Ferdinands cheese(cougar gold)!

Anonymous said...

Kale,
Thanks for the recognition on the "Hershey Squirts" and "Green Apple Splatters". I'm feeling so proud right now. I did have one thought about all of this ... humankind can forever debate which wine is the finest or which cheese is the best or which fine wine and cheese are the perfect companions to each other. However, when it comes to the extreme opposite end of the scale, I don't think anyone can dispute the perfect matchup of Cheese Whiz and Gallo Pink Chablis.
Dad

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