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CHEESE VERSUS SEX: An Idiot’s Guide to the Gastronomic Condiment

 There is a reason why people ask whether you would give up cheese or sex: cheese is a part of everyone’s gastronomic life that is integral. We all know that feta is very different from jack, and mozzarella tastes great on pizza, but what is the difference between a bloomy rind and a washed rind? How do cheeses vary from region to region? What different milks are used to make cheese and how to they change them?

We’ll start our exploration with the types of cheeses.

Fresh Cheese

Light and mild cheeses that are un-aged. They are very versatile for dishes and for those who are not cheese diehards.

Examples: Mozzarella, Burrata, Chevre, Feta

Bloomy Rind Cheese

Small cheeses with a more pungent taste than the fresh cheeses, but still pretty mild. They are slightly aged (called ripened) which makes the taste range from place to place on the cheese. Closer to the rind (outer part, edible in this variety) is more aged- tasting, and therefore more pungent.

Examples: Boucheron, Brie, Camembert

Washed Rind Cheese

Very easy to pick out due to their orange-red hue. These are washed in brine, wine, beer, brandy or cider. The interior is soft and the tastes from mild to very bold. Watch out, these are very pungent due to the washed rind!

Examples: Morbier, Munster, Taleggio, Reblochon

Blue Cheese

Usually the easiest to pick out due to their blue veins caused by holes allowing air to enter the cheese while it is aging. Most of us have tried at least one blue, and know it is a somewhat acquired taste.

Examples: Gorgonzola, Grafton, Roquefort, Stilton

Semi-Hard Cheese

Very broad category. Curds are pressed together tightly, hence the hard part of the title, then aged for several months. They are usually in inedible rinds in order to lock out moisture. Taste ranges again from mild to bold.

Examples: Asiago, Cheddar, Comte, Fontina

Hard Cheese

Made from cooked curds tightly packed and aged for months to years. Can be crumbly or dense. Flavors are usually very complex, from fruity to nutty.

Examples: Manchego, Gruyere, Pecorino, Parmigiano- Reggiano

A great way to explore some of these cheeses is a cheese plate; choose one depending on your preferences, or adventurousness.

– Isabelle Vrod

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