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500 Cheeses

by Roberta Muir | 0 Comments

500 CHEESES BY ROBERTA MUIR

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The fact that there can even be a book called 500 Cheeses is testament to the incredible diversity of these beloved fermented milk products, produced virtually worldwide from the milk of almost every domesticated herbivore, including horses, camels, and reindeer.

500 Cheeses describes the world’s most commonly known cheeses, including those recognized under appellation systems, as well as some of the more unusual ones, such as Nepalese yak’s milk cheese and Filipino kesong puti. From simple cottage cheeses once produced in every home, through artisanal cheeses undergoing a renaissance in the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, to some of the world’s most loved mass-produced products, 500 Cheeses has it covered.

Cheeses are grouped in chapters according to style: fresh, stretched curd, bloomy rind (white and mixed mould), washed rind, semi-soft, blue-vein, and semi-hard to hard, with chapter introductions detailing the history, production and uses of each cheese style.

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Each double page consists of a lead cheese plus four other cheeses around a common theme, making it easy for readers to find cheeses similar to ones they may already know and like. A national flag and animal symbols beside each cheese show at a glance where the cheese originates and what types of milk are used to make it, while notes at the bottom of every listing indicate whether the milk is pasteurised or raw and what region the cheese comes from. Each page opens with a brief history of the lead cheese or page theme, with serving and beverage suggestions.

Introductory chapters cover the various steps of cheesemaking; the most common dairy animals; how to select, store, taste and serve cheese and a comprehensive glossary of cheesemaking terms; and the book is illustrated throughout with colour photographs of featured cheeses, cheesemaking techniques, dairy animals and locations. The various appellation systems within Europe, including the EU’s overarching PDO system, are explained in the final chapter, with a list of all cheeses recognised under appellation systems at time of print.

500 Cheeses is an excellent primer for cheese novices, but will also inform and entertain more experienced cheese-lovers with its wealth of facts and historical detail.

See over for quick and interesting cheese facts from 500 Cheeses.

For a look inside 500 Cheeses visit www.rsvp.com and scroll down to view sample pages (of US edition).

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Cheese facts from 500 Cheeses … Did you know:

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- Greece has the highest per capita cheese consumption in Europe and Feta accounts for 70% of all cheese eaten in Greece.
- Though first made in New York, “Philadelphia” cream cheese was so named because Philadelphia was famous for premium foodstuffs at that time (1880s).
- Earthenware pots found in a pharaoh’s tomb suggest that Egyptians made cheese over 5,000 years ago.
- In Finland, fresh reindeer’s milk curds were traditionally baked in front of an open fire to preserve them (Leipäjuusto), then later put into coffee to soften.
- Indian water buffalo were introduced as draft animals to the plains around Naples in the 6th century, their milk is now used for the famous Mozzarella di Bufala.

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- Caciocavallo, means “cheese (cacio) on horseback (cavallo),” because the cheeses are aged dangling in pairs on either side of a rod, as if astride a horse.
- Traditional brie and camembert differ in region of production and size; larger, thinner brie comes from around Paris; smaller, thicker camembert from Normandy.
- French goat cheeses were traditionally coated in salt mixed with ash from burnt grapevine clippings to preserve them through winter.
- Arabs from Spain introduced goats to France (now famous for its chèvre/goat cheese) in the early Middle Ages.
- Early church codes had many meat-free days, so flavourful washed rind cheeses were developed in monasteries as a meaty-tasting alternative protein source.

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- French Reblochon derives its name from ‘reblocher’ (“re-pinch the udders”) because farmers would partially milk their cows, declare that milking to landlords for tax purposes, then make their cheese from a secret second milking.
- Ireland has more cattle than people (6 million cattle, 4.2 million people in 2006) and the southern county of Cork has been a cradle for the renaissance of Irish farmhouse cheesemaking.
- Morbier was originally produced with surplus curds with soot from the base of the cheesemaker’s cauldron scattered over the morning’s excess curds to prevent a skin forming before the evening’s leftover curds were layered on top.
- Processed cheese was invented in Switzerland in 1908 to utilize excess cheese.
- J.L. Kraft applied for an American patent for making processed cheese in the early 1900s and launched processed cheese slices on the American market in 1950.

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- The Laughing Cow brand was born in 1921 when Léon Bel (founder of what is now the multinational Bel Group) registered the trademark for La Vache Qui Rit (“the cow who laughs”).
- Legend says that a French shepherd, distracted by a pretty shepherdess, left his meal of fresh sheep’s cheese and bread in a cave in Roquefort; weeks later when he rediscovered it, it had turned blue but tasted wonderful.
- Almost all blue-veined cheeses today are made using laboratory-grown moulds related to Penicillium roqueforti, the mould discovered in the famous caves of Roquefort in France.
- The Stilton cheese we know has never been produced in Stilton. First made in Leicestershire in the early 1700s, it was sold at the Bell Inn in Stilton, an important stagecoach stop on the London-Edinburgh road and so the fame of the cheese “from Stilton” spread.

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- Over half the cheese consumed in English-speaking countries is called “cheddar,”, but authentic cheddar (marketed as West Country Farmhouse Cheddar) is made by “cheddaring,” a process of stacking blocks of curd atop one another to drain.
- Colby was invented by Joseph Steinwand in 1855 in his father’s cheese factory near Colby, Wisconsin.
- The development of jack cheese is generally attributed to Monterey business man David Jacks, who started producing and distributing it in the 1890s.
- Emmental ages in warm maturing rooms where heat-loving bacteria in the cheese ferment and give off bubbles of carbon dioxide, producing the holes characteristic of ‘Swiss cheese’.
- In medieval times, Parmesan-style cheeses were sometimes used as currency, as they kept well and could be easily transported due to their low moisture content.

Author, Roberta Muir, may be contacted at robertam@sydneyfishmarket.com.au.
View her Author’s page on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Roberta-Muir

 

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