Happy National Cheese Lover’s Day! Although I’m not sure there’s much of a difference between today, January 20, and National Cheese Day (June 4)…I mean, how can you eat cheese and NOT love it?
Have you ever wondered how the first human discovered cheese? Maybe it’s like the first person who ate an oyster, we’ll probably never find out. All I know is that it was likely love at first bite; when the first human tasted the salty, tangy, delicious goodness of cheese, they were hooked. Just think about all those times you’ve had a glass of wine and an appetizer of cheese and crackers…a marriage made in heaven. Add in some olives for me and I could make that a complete meal.
If you’ve read some of my earlier posts on Chez Suzette, you’ll know that I grew up in a small town and definitely not in a family of adventurous eaters. Not until my 20s did my cheese repertoire extend beyond mild cheddar. Oh! What I was missing! I had no idea that chèvre (goat cheese) or feta or bleu cheeses even existed. What a different and much more flavorful culinary world exists for me now.
My two kiddos, Morgan and Oliver, definitely grew up with a greater variety of cheeses in the house. When Morgan got married, one of the quotes in her wedding guest book was taken from something she once wrote and left for now new hubby Shaun to see when he came home.
Morgan will readily confess to being one of the world’s biggest cheese lovers. This past Christmas I gifted her a subscription to a local shop for their “cheeses of the month” club along with a book I found that was the perfect accompaniment. The New Rules of Cheese by Anne Saxelby is a fun little guide to understanding the world of cheese and how to enjoy it.
Here are a few of the book’s “rules” that I particularly liked:
Rule #1: Support your local cheese shop.
While you can buy cheese at the grocery store for everyday cooking or to top your tacos with, buying artisan cheeses from local farmers is such a great way to connect with the maker and support their livelihood. If you have a local cheese shop you will also find imports that can be unique and much fresher.
Rule #11: Cheese does not make you fat.
Well, hallelujah! Real cheese (not that processed stuff) is full of good fat and other nutrients that are very good for you. So when you eat the good stuff, it doesn’t take a large portion to be satisfying. Sort of like a good piece of dark chocolate. And just like lots of other things, we all just have to practice restraint and not eat too much of a good thing at one sitting. (Well…damn.)
Rule #41: Cheese is a food worth its salt.
Now the author is speaking my language. Yes, I have a Salty Obsession, and I know that’s one of the reasons why I love cheese. As she writes in the book, “Salt is Mother Nature’s gift to humans to preserve and store many different types of foods.” While there are some fresh cheeses that may not use salt, you can’t make the good old aged ones without it.
Rule #52: Cheese people are nice!
Saxelby writes that “…cheese people are some of the most wonderful people on the planet. Whether we’re talking makers or mongers, the global tribe of cheese people is filled with delightfully quirky, kind, generous, idealistic, nutty, honest and pragmatic individuals.” And based on the ones I’ve had the pleasure to chat with in stores or at the farmer’s markets, I will agree. It’s so much fun to talk to someone about something they made. They may even tell you the name of the cow or the goat whose milk made their cheese.
So the next time you cut a wedge of cheese or put together your cheese board for that dinner party we’re all dying to attend right now, why not add a new cheese to your repertoire to share. You may just create a new cheese lover without even knowing it.
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