I love cheese. Cheese is the black of food; it goes with everything. Gouda, Parmesan, American, Mozzarella, any kind of cheese, you can’t go wrong. I have this theory that if you add cheese to anything, you are only going to make it better. I need only mention a few examples to have you nodding your head:
Bread stick….. Cheese bread stick
It’s clear that some food-God before my time understood the Power of Cheese and we are benefiting from their genius every day. Its creamy smoothness simply cannot be debated.
One time, cheese even saved my life. Okay, not literally, but it helped me be respectful. I was with friends and we had some clams cooked for us. Now, ever since my high school job where I had to glob whole-belly clams in a milk mixture and then into a batter before frying, I have disliked them. They are slimy and fishy. That being said, I am also respectful and was brought up to understand that as this food was kindly prepared for me, I would kindly be prepared to swallow it. When my plate of clams came out I was pleasantly surprised to see some melted parmesan still sizzling on top of their open shells. Despite my belief in all the powers of cheese, I was still skeptical. But as soon as I scooped up a little clam in its bath of tomato sauce and cheese and it hit my tongue, I was reborn. Cheese helped keep my 15 year streak of no gag reflexes at the table in check (Chop Suey ended the previous streak– I used to be picky). Cheese, man, you did it again. If you can make clams taste better, you can do anything you set your mind to.
But, ya know, there is one thing better than cheese: melted cheese. The warm, gooey blanket on top of lasagna, tuna melts, and even a simple plate of Ritz crackers is enough to make my mouth water. Enter the King of Melted Cheese… Raclette. Raclette is originally a Swiss meal of boil potatoes, veggies, and meat covered in special melted “raclette” cheese. Thankfully, the Germans are also common raclette eaters and I was introduced to the magnificent dish in 2008 by my first German basketball teammates. They were trying to explain what we’d be eating but as soon as I heard “käse,” one of the first words I’d learned, I was sold. When I discovered that raclette is like a buffet– where you choose your own ingredients, put them in your own mini-pan, top it with cheese and place it underneath a grill that melts and, if you are patient, browns the cheese– I started counting down the days to our meal. After years in Germany, a raclette grill is the third thing on the list of requirements for my first house (after a big dog and a coffee maker).
Though Americans invented the cheeseburger and all of its glory, Europeans are much more in touch with cheese. All types of cheese are readily available and not ridiculously expensive. A lot of European homes even make a meal out of sliced cheese, meat, and bread platters. I mean, there is a time and place for American Cheese (i.e. Tuna Melt) but on a yummy cheese spread, it just doesn’t belong.
And through my years of playing basketball I’ve learned that a lot of foreign words just don’t translate exactly into English and while “käse” does, in essence, mean cheese, it’s just not the same. When a German says this word it means something totally different than how most Americans think of it. Take käsecroissant (my favorite German bakery food) for example. I googled the latter and found mouth-watering pictures of flaky croissants covered in crispy, browned cheese, cradling yet another layer of cheese in its arms. “Cheese croissant,” however, yields pictures of croissant sandwiches and, sadly, a picture of a Hot Pocket box also pops up. I’m an equal opportunity cheese eater and the options in Europe are to die for.
My love of cheese started with “the blue box blues” and Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese, but like the tasty food itself, my love has matured. I’ve found cheese even goes well with chocolate (try it sometime). If nothing else, when any waitress in any country asks “would you like cheese with that?” do your taste buds a favor and say yes.