Cheese!  Mic dropped.  Ok, maybe the mic isn’t quite dropped on cheese.  But how many people who have tasted the creamy and tangy goodness of cheese have been able to stay away from its silky smoothness as it slides easily down your tongue and into your stomach.  In truth, I cannot imagine a substance that we eat that is more revered.  Cheese makes everything better almost.  Let’s examine the list of things.  Salads, pasta, meat, hamburgers, dressings, sauces, tacos, enchiladas, casseroles, and even cakes. (Because if you can’t say that cheesecakes are amazing I will have to disown your humanity.)  Cheese is just one of those things which make everyone’s mouth water.  That’s why celebrating a cheese food holiday makes sense.

Unfortunately for many, cheese exists as a dairy product.  By its very nature, it is something that they cannot have.  After doing some research as we are wont to do at the Guide, I begin to wonder whether or not cheese is a racist food.  70 percent of African Americans, 90 percent of Asians, 53 percent of Mexican Americans, and 74 percent of Native Americans end up with substantial lactase activity, which results in lactose intolerance.  This fact does not stop these populations from eating cheese.  They make fake cheese or cheeses with things that help those with lactose intolerance to eat cheese.  Its silky goodness tempts people to eat it even when they know they will feel pain as a result.

The irony of life is that I loved cheese and dairy products from a very early age.  I am told by my mother, who would have no reason to lie about such things, that I loved breastfeeding for hours on end.  This would disturb my mother but I guess I needed my milk.  And then when I stopped needing it from my mom, I didn’t stop altogether.  I just moved onto making the milk that I was drinking colder.  (There is something with me and cold drinks that I cannot just describe.)  From there I quickly moved onto cheese.

Likewise, Cheese made quite an impact on my family.  For my brother, it was actually his very first word.  Not Dad.  Not Mom.  Cheese!  Because who wouldn’t want cheese more?  Somehow we seem to exist in that 25 percent that does not seem to have a problem with dairy.  And what’s crazier, my daughter somehow seems to have caught onto the craze.  You know how mothers seem to have cravings for particular things while they are pregnant.  These are odd things.  Like Pickles and chocolate.  Or eggs and cornbread.  There is no rhyme or reason.  But for my ex, when she was pregnant, what did she ask for?  Milk!  Morning.  Noon.  And Night.  She craved it.  And seemingly nothing else.  And what happened when my daughter was born?  She stopped craving it.  But my daughter didn’t.

After more, mom, and dad, my daughter’s first word was mild.  (More, Mom, and Dad were words she learned to speak when signing before she could talk.) Ok!  She meant milk.  But you get the picture.  And with more, what did she want more of?  Milk of course.   Soon after that, it became cheese.  She sings songs to meat, cheese, and olives whenever we make tacos.  Cheese is a must have with almost any meal.  She would probably eat just cheese if she could.  My family, you could say, is addicted to cheese.

 


The History of Cheese – Sort Of . . .

So where did cheese come from?  And how in the world did we get it?  To understand that we have to go in the Guide’s time machine when cavemen spoke in grunts, and women sought after men with the biggest clubs.  (Not night clubs ladies.  The ones they could beat someone over the heads with.)  We tried interviewing the first cave men we saw but all he could say was:  “ugga bugga.”  And after a few of those answers, we realized that we were going nowhere so we decided to take the time machine back home and make up the rest.

Caveman X

One day, Caveman X was too far away from his home and he forgot all of the rules and he went splat!  The end.  Wait.  No.  So Caveman X went out into the country and found a strange black and white looking creature out in the countryside.  Some guy with a weird dot on his forehead seemed to be bowing down before the animal.  The Caveman mistook the other caveman’s worship of the cow and bent down next to the cow utters got confused.  After several hours of kneeling in front of a cow, he didn’t know what this group was doing or why they were doing it.  While being confused he looked around but then lost his balance and he grabbed onto the first things he could find before toppling over.

It just so happened that he grabbed onto the cows utters and groaned.  When the other caveman asked what it was he thought he was grabbing, Caveman X thought that he was asking what it was he has groaned.  “No utter nothing,” the caveman answered.  The first caveman took the only word that did not make sense to him and assumed that it must be what the caveman was talking about.  And so the utter got its name.

A Sour Discovery

Of course, after squeezing too hard, some delicious white liquid came out and Caveman X saw that it tasted amazing.  So he squeezed out some more and shared it with other Caveman.  Quickly it’s popularity spread throughout the cave world and before you knew it they were throwing milk parties.  At one of these bashes, a Caveman who shall remain nameless forgot to put the milk away after it was done and left it out overnight.

It was a hot night and by morning the milk had solidified.  The caveman tried to keep the white liquid but thought it tasted gross now.  He might have thrown out the cheese too were it not for some fortuitous situation.   Instead, he tasted the other more solid by-product and thought he’d made a world altering revelation.  A friend of him told him that he was being cheesy again, and hence the term stuck.  Or so I would like to think.

The Real History of Cheese Part Deux

To be honest, when doing the research, no one knows when people started making cheese.  They have been doing it for before recorded human history.  And since that’s only a little over 8 thousand years and they were making cheese before then, it would seem that cheese and fire are two of the true enigmas of life.  We don’t know who made fire or cheese first.  But once made, no one was taking it away from us. The etymology of the word comes from the Indo-European word kwat which means sour. So honestly it’s not too far off to say that some caveman tasted sour milk and saw that it clumped together.  So they called this sour milk clump cheese.  (I know.  You were thinking the cheese was named after Chester Cheetah from the Cheese commercials.  It’s not!)

One of the first times cheese has been discovered was back in 2000-year-old Egyptian tomb murals.  In China, they discovered it from as far back as 1615 in the Taklamakan Dessert.  How they did is a mystery.   The Greeks were under the misconception that Aristaeus invented cheese from sheep and goats milk.  And by the Romans came around they made up some other character who had created the cheese.  It became so popular during that time that they started writing books about all of the different cheeses that they had.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, there was a great fight about whose cheese was the best cheese.  The English claimed to have 700 unique flavors of cheese.  France had about 400.  And the pope in Rome felt like he couldn’t let the French get away with that many kinds of cheese.  So they made 400 distinct kinds of cheese for themselves.

Despite the varieties they had back then, many of the cheeses that we have today didn’t come until the 1500s or later.  Parmesan, Gouda, and Camembert all were discovered in the late 16th to late 18th century.  (Although why my research listed Camembert as a popular cheese I will never know.  What the heck is a Camembert?)  So the cheese craft has been an evolving feature, even to this day.

Modern Cheesemaking

The Willy Wonka of Cheeses started to produce them in a factory in Switzerland in 1815.  But as with all systems of automation, the Americans had to automate it better.  And so cheese didn’t get worldwide acclaim to cheese didn’t happen until Jesse Williams, a dairy farmer in New York put it on an assembly line.  (Sorry Wisconsin.   New York came first as a major cheese manufacturer.)  And by the time of World War 2, almost all major cheeses were produced in assembly lines.  In all, the cheese has made its way from Chinese desserts into modern homes.  And we are never going back.


My Favorite Cheese Recipe

But we here at the Guide, in the interest of bringing the best to you, want to bring you my favorite cheese recipe.  And as I love all things cheese, and sugar, what would be better than a cheesecake recipe?  But of course, I cannot be content with bringing you a simple cheesecake.  I have to go one further.  I would like to share with you my favorite cheesecake recipe via Paula Deen courtesy of the Food Network.  For those of you who detest her, I will not get into a debate.  What I will say is that she is an amazing cook.  You try watching any of her shows and pretend that your mouth isn’t watering at the end of it.  (Although I cannot guarantee that your cholesterol won’t rise just by watching.)

With most recipes, I add or change it to suit my needs, wants or tastes.  With with items that you bake, you have to be really careful.  And I had tried other pumpkin cheesecake recipes and found them wanting.  So when I tried this one, it was pretty darn amazing.  The problem with the other pumpkin cheesecakes I tried is that they fell apart.  This one seemed to hold together well.  As it is not my recipe or a modification, I will be including the link to it here:

Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

My only major recommendation for the recipe is that you allow the cream cheese to warm up out of the refrigerator for at least an hour before you start the process.  Unless your house it a hotbox, it will make it easier to do the mixing and make a nicer cheesecake.   Also, using a hand mixer might work better than a stand mixer in getting out any cheese clumps you might have from the cream cheese.  But use your best judgment.


Continue the Conversation –

So what is your favorite cheese recipe?  What things do you like to do with cheese?  And what kind of cheese is your favorite, if you can actually eat it?  Honestly, I love all kinds of cheese.  But I saw this grilled cheese sandwich by Pretty Fit Foodie and I nearly lost my mind.  The sandwich blends yummy Italian food with a grilled cheese sandwich and my mouth was watering.  Even just staring at it makes me want grilled cheese.  And spaghetti and meatballs.  So why choose?  Do both!

Thank you for stopping by for this food holiday.  If you liked this post, please follow the guide.  Subscribers who do via email will get access to the Dad Rules.  These are 10 Rules for Dads that every Dad should know. And every mother should be interested in.  You can also check out previous food holidays and histories at the end of this post.

Until next time, Bon Appetite!

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

Food Holidays:

May 18th – Cheese Souffle Day

May 30th – Mint Julep Day