June 4th: celebrate National Cheese Day!6 min read
While there are certainly some people who do not like it, others would agree that cheese is one of the best ingredients for food recipes that was ever invented!
It is produced from the pressed curds of milk, that can come from cows, buffalo, goats, sheep and not only. Temperature and aging affect the flavor and texture of the cheese, as well as spices and other seasonings added during the process.
Excellent as a snack on its own there are such a variety of ways that it can be enjoyed, and it is also a perfect ingredient in toasted cheese sandwiches, pizzas, different kinds of pasta and sauces, soups as well as other countless recipes.
For those who are big fans of cheese, this day gives the ideal opportunity to eat as much of it as desired!
National Cheese Day has been going on for quite some time now and it has a rich background of fun and, of course, cheese. The day was first established in 1914, with its origins being traced to Monroe, Wisconsin in the United States.
For more than 100 years, this day has been celebrated biennially, and there are a ton of different festivities that go on during this event, including a two-hour parade, traditional Swiss-Germanic music (waltzes and polkas), club stands, crafts, carnival rides, restaurants, and local food to enjoy.
Not by chance, National Cheese Day is all about learning more about cheese, celebrating cheese, eating cheese–and not feeling guilty about it!
In addition, this day is all about embracing this culinary delight, getting well educated about all things related to cheese, and trying out different recipes that incorporate this amazing ingredient.
How to celebrate?
There are so many different ways that you can celebrate National Cheese Day.
For example, you can host a cheese tasting party, visit a cheesemonger, or going to a professional cheese tasting experience. Get ready to try some interesting samples, asking the shop owner for a taste of the most unique cheeses on hand.
Of course, enjoying a cheese-based meal is a must on this day, and It could be something as simple as ordering an extra dose of cheese on a takeaway pizza.
Or, maybe it’s time to try and do something a little bit different in the world of cheese? Those who typically have parmesan on their spaghetti or mozzarella on their pizza, why not try substituting it for a different type of cheese?
And, of course, you can also learn about different types of cheese, as there are countless different kinds and varieties available from cultures the world over.
From the common and well-known ones, like brie and cheddar, to some of the lesser-known and more peculiar varieties, like burrata or lancashire cheese.
It has been rumored that they even sell human milk cheese in New York!
Well, It seems that, when the freezer of New York chef Daniel Angerer started to overflow with his wife’s breast milk, he decided to experiment with it rather than throw it out. He blogged about the process online with photos of mother’s milk with beets and romaine, dehydrated porcini mushroom and onion chutney. But don’t worry, rest assured the cheese was never produced in his restaurant or sold…I hope.
Among others “regular” but unique and interesting cheese is Olomouc Cheese from the Czech Republic, a bit infamous due to the fact that it comes with really a strong (some would say stinky!) smell. Named after the city wherein Moravia where it originated, this is a ripened soft cheese that has been made for more than 600 years!
Another is the so-called Drunken Goat Cheese from Spain, made by curing unpasteurized goat cheese in red wine for approximately 48-72 hours. It’s a semi-firm cheese that is also known as Murcia al Vino, indicating the type of goat it is made from.
Gjetost Cheese from Norway, on the other hand, is made from a blend of cow’s milk and goat’s milk. It comes in a block and has a dark orange, almost brownish color that makes it look like chocolate. Plus, it’s a little sweet so it tastes a bit like caramel fudge–perfect with a cup of coffee!
Casu Marzu is enjoyed only by a select population. That’s because it’s served with live maggots.
It does have a fan base in Sardinia, Italy, where sheep farmers for centuries have made pecorino cheese and left it to rot and attract flies. Lot of flies. When their eggs hatch, the transformation takes place and the cheese becomes Casu Marzu.
It’s then consumed with relish or perhaps trepidation, as it has an aftertaste that lasts for hours!
Just when you thought Italy took the proverbial cheese for those maggots, along come Germany with its…mite excrement variety! Produced in Wurchwitz from quark, the so-called Milbenkase sits among dust mites for several months, with some rye for them to nibble on.
The mites excrete an enzyme to ripen the cheese that turns it progressively yellow, red-brown and then black, at which point it’s eaten, mites and all. Bitter and zesty, the cheese is said to have curative effects for allergies to house dust…
If these weren’t enough, imagine sucking and gnawing a piece of cheese-flavored resin for several hours and you’ll get an idea of how hard Yak cheese from Tibetan communities is. It could in fact break your teeth, although there are softer varieties!
The cheese is made by wrapping the curd from yak’s milk in cloth and pressing it to get rid of the water. When it dries out it’s cut into pieces and allowed to dry, often over a wood fire. Curious fact: the yak is the male of the species and doesn’t produce milk, so it actually should be called nak cheese, after the female….
…and there is also camel’s milk cheese!
Nomadic herders across Africa have been milking their camels for centuries. Not only are the resilient beasts a more viable alternative to cows in dry climates, but their rich, earthy milk has more fat and protein. However, making cheese from their milk is a more difficult process, so herders use camel rennet from pieces of the animal’s stomach to coagulate the milk and create curds. This may explain its sour taste and pungent aroma.
Another? In Canada, there is also lichen cheese.
When a small Quebec company found out the Inuit once ate a fermented lichen from the stomach of caribou that tasted like blue cheese, they decided to try it for themselves. Using Quebec goat’s milk and lichen, the company creates still today a mold from roasting and boiling the lichen, then lets it rest and ferment. Luckily the cheese is still in its experimental stage….
If we move to Serbia, you can enjoy even Donkey cheese! At the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve, 50 kilometers out of Belgrade, you can get your hands on the so called “pule”! While healthy, as it has 60 times more vitamin C than cow’s milk, donkeys only produce 200 ml of milk a day, and about 25 liters are required to make just 1 kilogram of cheese! That means the white, crumbly pule is both limited and costly. Currently it goes for about €1,000 a kilo, or $576 a pound.
The reserve also makes soap, a liquor and facial cream from the milk. And don’t forget that Cleopatra herself claimed her beauty was due to bathing in donkey milk….
Images from web – Google Research