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why cant americans make cheese ?

s
stevenjf Dec 31, 2006 02:08 PM

i am a brit and i have just returned from manhatten on what was a really wonderful trip with super food .
one thing i have never understood about america is why your cheese is so very processed and lacking in taste .
brit and euro cheeses are so very flavourful with huge variation in style and design .
i have been to a great many places in the usa but have never been able to understand this ?
any answers ?
thanks
Steve

  1. flourgirl Jun 6, 2010 10:06 AM

    I am, at this very moment, snacking on some cranberry walnut bread spread with Bobolink Dairy's Baudolino that I just purchased at the farmer's market this morning. (Bobolink makes the bread as well.) All I can say is Oh. My. God.

    1. w
      wineman3 Jun 3, 2010 11:33 PM

      steven,
      You need to get to the states more often because as I see it you must have been living in a bubble in NYC. There are so many artisan cheeses in the US now that your typical British comments are an indication of how closed minded you islanders really are. Always tying to take the pi~~ out of the Americans aren't you. YOU ARE FLAT WRONG IN YOUR COMMENT, wake up and smell the coffee, there are world class cheeses in the good ole USA.

      1 Reply
      1. re: wineman3
        thew Jun 4, 2010 04:40 AM

        we have access to plenty of artisan cheeses in NYC

      2. a
        aventinus Jun 3, 2010 10:02 PM

        America just has a terrible food culture in general. I would say it's the worst food culture in the entire world, possibly excepting countries that are literally starving. To the average American, a "bakery" is an exotic culinary adventure. Americans are fully accustomed to buying bags of sliced crap bread, processed cheese, canned and frozen vegetables, and factory-produced meals. We have hordes of obese diabetics who eat nothing but god awful crap all day, every day. Why all of this is true is an interesting question, but there's no reason to limit it to cheese.

        6 Replies
        1. re: aventinus
          rworange Jun 3, 2010 10:36 PM

          I looked at your profile. You seem to be LA based. Ir people are only buying crap in LA, you are hanging with the wrong crowd and your long-time posting on Chowhound was for nothing.

          I will agree that some parts of the country are not as blessed as others in terms of choices. However I believe for the most part the American diet has improved.

          To put this back on topic ... though feel feel to start a rant about the American diet in general on a new thread ... I believe that the diet today is where cheese is ... some is very, very good and it improves each year.

          1. re: aventinus
            thew Jun 3, 2010 10:52 PM

            really? in a country of 300 million people, MOST find a bakery exotic? Hordes of diabetics?

            don't you think any generalization made about 300 million people has to be a bit off the mark?

            i've seen a lot of unhealthy people all over the world. I've seen people eat crap all over the world.

            1. re: thew
              a
              aventinus Jun 3, 2010 11:14 PM

              Is it not true that most Americans eat more factory bread than bakery bread?
              Is it not true that Most non-Americans eat more bakery bread than factory bread?

              I think it's an American cultural thing. I've travelled to many third world countries, and the people there eat much better foods than what we eat. I'm not being a snob either. I grew up eating Kraft and Velveeta. Fast food meals were a mainstay of my diet. I thought food rightly came in cardboard boxes and plastic bags. The fact of the matter is that people in other countries couldn't eat such crap if they wanted to, because it doesn't exist.

              1. re: aventinus
                rworange Jun 3, 2010 11:39 PM

                I guess I would ask you to provide documentation for your theories. I don't know if it is true or not.

                No. the partidular third world countries I've been to do NOT eat much better food. The country I am currently living in, Guatemala, has almost as many diabetes clinics as there are Starbucks in the US ... one on every corner.

                You can't blame processed food. They mostly make everything from scratch ... with the exception of pepian / mole helper. Eating out at restaurants is not an every day or every week occurance.

                Tortillas are not only made fresh every day ... from scratch ... and by that I mean they start by grinding the corn ... they are made three times a day so they are fresh, morning, noon and night.

                You really can't find a baked goods section with stuff like Entermann's or Hostess because every few blocks there is a bakery or someone from the bakery walking down the streets with baskets of fresh baked goods.

                They don't even drink much soda ... maybe one or two glasses a week.

                So no ... do NOT blame processed foods. Blame poor nutritional information ... and it can happen anywhere. Again, of all the places you could be from, Los Angeles probably tops out as the thinnest place in the country with a gym on every corner.

                I have no idea where you are pulling this info from ... unless you are just trolling

                1. re: aventinus
                  thew Jun 4, 2010 11:32 AM

                  there's more than a thin line between "Is it not true that most Americans eat more factory bread than bakery bread?" and "To the average American, a "bakery" is an exotic culinary adventure. "

                  as to: "Is it not true that Most non-Americans eat more bakery bread than factory bread?"

                  go into a european supermarket. plenty of non-bakery breads for sale. plenty of "bakery" breads that are baked in lots of hundreds and thousands as well. hardly the same as a nona standing over an oven all day

                  i've been to plenty of 3rd world countries as well. while the food may not be mass produced to the same degree as in industrialized nations, that is not the same as saying it is better food. The quality is often far inferior to what we have available on a daily basis in your basic supermarket - much less a green market, speciality store, or farm outlet.

                  and go look at the a store in thailand, or hong kong, japan, or singapore sometime. the shelves are groaning under the weight of chips and other "crap." It exists, in spades.

                  to me, given my experiences, what you write seems like nonsense

                  1. re: aventinus
                    Prav Jun 5, 2010 01:45 PM

                    I'm not sure if you're trying to be a troll or what, but there are some concerning things going on with your thinking process.

                    America is too populous, as well as ethnically, socioeconomically and geographically diverse, that your "The fact of the matter" blanket statements are just ridiculous.

                    It's worrisome that you believe your anecdotal experience of having "travelled to many third world countries" serves as valid "proof" of your oversimplified assertion that "the people there eat much better foods than what we eat".

                    Think about what you just said. Think about what "better foods" means exactly. Think about your definition of "third world country". Think about the possibility that not all "third world countries" are the same, nor even eat the same things.

                    But most of all, think about the power of data over anecdotes such as "well, I've been to xyz and they do that there!", and see if you can understand why your claims are so ridiculous and oversimplified.

                    To assert these claims without much thought and NO data, is pure and simple intellectual laziness.

              2. h
                Howard_2 Jun 2, 2010 03:50 PM

                As others have pointed out, the US DOES produce some excellent cheeses, but they are not as widely known, or as widely available, as are cheeses in the UK and Europe.

                I think there are probably 2 or 3 main reasons why American cheese tastes are not as widespread as are Euro tastes:

                1. America is very good at *mass* marketing. But if you're going to be a *mass* marketer, and you want to make money, you make a product that appeals to the largest number of people--think bell curve--you make it bland and acceptable to the largest number of people. And that "largest number of people" has little appreciation for cheese.

                2. Historically, cheese has just not been part of American culture in the same way that it is part of Euro culture.

                3. Since really good cheese, and "non-mainstream" cheeses, are, well, non-mainstream, culturally, there's a slight (or more) negative connotation attached to being a person who appreciates a good and/or not-easily-available cheese (e.g., goat's milk brie, raw milk cheese, etc.)

                5 Replies
                1. re: Howard_2
                  b
                  bluemoon4515 Jun 2, 2010 06:55 PM

                  What is the deal with #3? I was at dinner with my bf's family one night and an aunt pointed out a salad with goat cheese and said "mmm, doesn't that look good!" I was about to agree when it became clear she was joking, and that everyone else at the table agreed goat cheese was disgusting and not something a "person in their right mind" would want on a salad.
                  ...Before then I'd never considered people might judge me for my taste in cheese?? And I can't imagine what they'd think if they saw the cheese I keep in my fridge!

                  1. re: Howard_2
                    Cremon Jun 3, 2010 09:05 AM

                    You know, I hate to say this but you are right. I am an American living in the U.S. and I love many cheeses but the best tasting cheeses are imported from Europe. Local grocery stores are slowly getting better as more Americans gain an appreciation for good cheese, but I have to go to a farmers market to get cheeses I really like and they tend to be expensive. My favorite cheeses are Danish Castello, Danish Cambozola, real Roquefort blue from France (the stuff made from sheeps' milk with the red sheep mark on the label), Italian Gorgonzola and the ubiquitous Brie which can be eaten with almost anything. I'll eat the American cheese slices on a burger or in an omelette but for snacking on cheese with crackers, bread or fruit, the European imports are better. I buy imported Parmesan or Romano and grate it myself for pasta dishes.

                    Maytag blue cheese is one of the best American cheeses - and it IS very good. But pit it against the first 3 cheeses I listed above as my favorites and it pales markedly.

                    1. re: Cremon
                      Das Ubergeek Jun 3, 2010 09:38 AM

                      You need to start investigating artisanal American cheese, then. I can buy a boerekaas made in Temecula, California—just 45 minutes away from where I live—that could stand up easily to almost any Dutch gouda. Lagunitas makes a smoked goat cheddar that is insanely good, and I can buy a blue cow's milk wrapped in wine-soaked nettle leaves, all at my local farmers' market.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                        Mr Taster Jun 3, 2010 10:32 AM

                        DU, I'm sure you know it's not actually in Temecula-- it's in Winchester. I've been to the farm a few times-- it's a mini Dutch import shop as well as a cheese farm. And while technically American, it's old world Dutch immigrants who make the cheese. About 8 years ago, I met the elderly couple back in the day when I had a Dutch girlfriend who was a little homesick and needed a dose of boerekaas and stroopwafels to ease her pain.

                        As I recall the story, it was back in the 60s or 70s, Winchester was poised to become a sort of Dutch Solvang, with the Dutch government allocating money for it's construction and infrastructure. But as anyone who visits the place immediately notices, it failed spectacularly and the money from the Dutch government dried up I believe sometime in the 80s. Not Salton Sea tragic, because it is so much smaller in scale, but similar. Except for a dilapidated windmill selling dusty antiques and a couple of ugly gabled storehouses being overtaken by tall grass and weeds, there's nothing else inherently Dutch about the place. Except the cheese (which is made exclusively with raw milk, and they have been doing so for well before it was on the raw milk foodies' collective radar)-- and especially the version with the cumin (mit komijn!), it is indeed very, very good and tastes just like it does back in Holland.

                        http://www.winchestercheese.com/

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster
                          Das Ubergeek Jun 3, 2010 12:48 PM

                          Yeah, yeah, but if you say Winchester, everybody thinks of a mystery house. It's close enough to Temecula (or Perris or Hemet).

                          There isn't much Dutch culture around. There's the AVIO club in Anaheim but they don't do much to promote the culture, they mostly seem to sit around and drink Heineken.

                  2. pikawicca Mar 15, 2008 05:55 PM

                    American cheeses are amazing, and continue to win many international competitions. I live in a small midwestern town, and can buy exquisite cheeses from across the country. BTW, the worst cheese I've ever tasted was a wet, chalky Wensleydale from Harrad's -- blecch! A lot of English cheeses are over-rated, IMO. Cheddars are superb, but Stilton is so overly-salty as to be almost inedible -- Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Humboldt Fog, Maytag Blue are so much better.

                    1. Living4fun Mar 15, 2008 03:59 PM

                      Evidently we Americans are catching up to the Europeans according the results of 2008 World Cheese competition held in Madison, Wisconsin this past week.
                      The 2008 champion was Le Gruyere Switzerland, a gruyere produced by Michael Spycher in Wasen, a Swiss village of 300 people. Judges lauded the winning sample for its full and fruity taste.
                      This year’s contest featured 1,941 entries from 20 countries, making it the largest international cheese and butter competition in the world.
                      Wisconsin entries won 27 of the 77 categories, by far the best showing of any state or nation. New York was second, with five category wins.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Living4fun
                        globocity Jun 5, 2010 06:47 PM

                        Hook's Cheddar from WI. Best. Cheese. Ever.

                      2. j
                        Joebob Mar 15, 2008 02:54 PM

                        After sailing through the previous 152 replies, I was surprised to see only one near mention (thanks Steck) of Major Farm. They make Vermont Shepherd, which is widely regarded as being one of the ten best cheeses IN THE WORLD.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Joebob
                          thew Mar 15, 2008 03:39 PM

                          by whom?

                        2. x
                          xnumberoneson Mar 10, 2008 05:39 PM

                          I think it's worth mentioning that even some of the major supermarket chains have incorporated specialty cheese shops into their stores.
                          In my area both Wegmans and Giant carry a wide selection of domestic and international cheeses.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: xnumberoneson
                            omotosando Mar 10, 2008 06:25 PM

                            Yeah, my Whole Foods has a pretty large collection, but the problem with Whole Foods' cheese and supermarket cheese is that it is all wrapped in plastic and not stored properly, which means that even a decent cheese is not going to be all that it could be.

                            1. re: omotosando
                              v
                              vino5150 Mar 12, 2008 12:02 PM

                              Even with that...who are you getting for service? Usually it's some jobber that doesn't really give a hoot about the cheese..or for that matter the company as a whole just wants numbers. I know that Whole Foods has a number of there full time cheese mongers have an affiliation with the American Cheese Society which has got to make you feel confident about what you are selling. Stop and Shop in New England area where I live (CT) takes a different approach. They know that there is a "market" for specialty cheese so they buy from the lowest bidder and pump it up like it's the best thng since sliced bread.

                          2. omotosando Mar 8, 2008 08:22 PM

                            Just had Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill cheese from Southern Georgia at the French Laundry in Napa. Seriously good stuff.

                            http://www.sweetgrassdairy.com/

                            It's from Jersey cows, which apparently makes a difference. However, distribution is limited, shipping is very expensive and recommended shelf life is 7-10 days, so mail order isn't terribly practical.

                            It is hard to get really good cheese. It certainly is not available at my local supermarket or at my local Whole Foods, where the selection is wider than at my supermarket, but the quality not much better.

                            Perhaps if we support cheesemakers like Sweet Grass Dairy, cheese culture in this country will improve. Americans can certainly make good cheese - it is just too much of a niche product at the moment. It would be nice if a million local cheesemakers and a million cheesemongers would bloom, but even in a large city like Los Angeles, there is only one cheesemonger on my side of town (and one other that I am aware of on the other side of town). But this thread has reminded me to pay my local cheesemonger a visit soon.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: omotosando
                              v
                              vino5150 Mar 10, 2008 11:08 AM

                              You see, Sweet Grass is all over the New England area. I used to buy it from my distributors in New Jersey. Great cheeses...you should ask your Whole Foods cheese person and see if they can get it for you. On the flip side...it was hard to get Cow Girl cheeses out here. The shipping I would have had to pay was riduculous just to get the stuff out here and I didn't want to pass that price on to my customers. Check out igourmet.com and see when they have a "free shipping" offer.

                            2. p
                              phan1 Feb 28, 2008 11:05 PM

                              Well, a lot of it has to do with the milk our cows make, right? I don't care if you're buying the most organic, unprocessed cow milk out there, our cow milk doesn't taste like the milk in Europe. Better milk, better cheese. But we do have the best beef in the world, which is quite funny.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: phan1
                                v
                                vino5150 Feb 29, 2008 06:23 AM

                                Different climate...different everything...that Medi climate has a lot to do with everything...just look/taste a piece of Parma prosciutto...I don't know about the beef situation. Just going by the lastest recall in the states. Food is fresher tasting there with chefs still purchasing from local markets on a daily basis. One of my cheese maker friends in CT literally lives off the farm. If he wants meat, well he has his pick of livestock to choose from. Although it sounds barbaric, it's just a realistic way of life for farmers.

                              2. e
                                emilief Feb 28, 2008 08:14 AM

                                I recently read that a cheesemaker in oregon is now exporting its cheeses, including blue cheese, to England. Apparently their cheese has won many awards and is competitive with Stilton which has been made in England for more than 300 years.
                                Americans make wonderful cheeses, and more and more and better and better as time goes by.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: emilief
                                  v
                                  vino5150 Feb 28, 2008 10:52 AM

                                  I'm only taking a stab at this, but is it Rogue Creamery in Ashland Oregon? They make AWSOME blues. Oregonzola...Rogue River Blue soaked in a pear brandy. Def recommend it!

                                  1. re: vino5150
                                    e
                                    emilief Feb 28, 2008 11:07 AM

                                    I'm pretty sure that is it - I will go back and look through my papers when I have time to find out for sure but that sounds familiar.

                                  2. re: emilief
                                    bbqboy Feb 28, 2008 06:10 PM

                                    http://www.roguecreamery.com
                                    actually in Central Point, a few towns north of Ashland.
                                    http://www.roguecreamery.com/newsroom...

                                  3. Lindseyup67 Feb 27, 2008 09:15 AM

                                    Cheeseheads in Wisconsin know how to make some tasty cheese! Packer fans rejoice!!!!!!!!!

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Lindseyup67
                                      s
                                      soupkitten Feb 27, 2008 11:03 AM

                                      parts of this thread are 2 years old, but they didn't even get into the dairyland, did they? there is so much awesome cheese in wisconsin (1,250,000 dairy cows) and minnesota i couldn't possibly begin to list them all. last i checked there are no cows in manhattan. lots of great artisan american cheeses stay local, some are shipped to nyc, but to judge any of a nation's agricultural products from the perspective of the selection of a supermarket in a huge metropolis is pretty wacky. it was cool to read about everybody's local favorite cheeses, even in regions where i may not have expected cheesemaking strength, like indiana and texas. yay everybody's local cheese!

                                      1. re: soupkitten
                                        thew Feb 28, 2008 03:52 AM

                                        there are no cows in manhattan, but there are many great dairies and cheese producers in New York state.

                                        the first 2 lists google turned up, hardly exhaustive:

                                        http://www.nyfarmcheese.org/cheesemakers.asp
                                        http://www.newyorkcheese.org/

                                        1. re: thew
                                          s
                                          soupkitten Feb 28, 2008 08:01 AM

                                          i'm not saying there aren't great dairies & cheese in new york state, i'm just saying that there are a lot of great dairies & cheese in the rest of the u.s too. since the cheese produced in wisconsin or california is not local to nyc, it may never get there. broadly, new york state makes some great cheddar, and it also makes a ton of more commodity cheese items, like cottage cheese & mozzarella. wisconsin also makes some great cheddar, but wouldn't/shouldn't a new yorker favor the more local product, unless specifically looking for the characteristics of the non-local product?

                                          the state rankings for cheese production are
                                          1. wisconsin (just over 25% of the entire nation's cheese)
                                          2. california (catching up to wisconsin)
                                          3. idaho (8%)
                                          4. new york (7%)
                                          5. minnesota (6.5%)

                                          of course, you have to look at where the biggest operations are (california & idaho) and where the smallest operations & the most small dairy manufacturers are (wisconsin), and where the most certified master cheesemakers are (wisconsin). average dairy herd size is 90 cows in wisconsin, 95 cows in new york state, and 12,000 cows in tulare county, california. btw vermont's dairy herds average 120 cows and growing.

                                          wisconsin leads the nation in the number of small dairy plants. there are a ton of smaller cheese producers and farmer's cooperatives in wisconsin making some great stuff right now. i talk to a lot of farmers, dairy people, & cheesemakers, & all of the artisan cheesemakers i know go to wisconsin when they want to learn something about traditionally made cheese. for quite some time, european dairy farmers have been moving to wisconsin (where the land is cheaper than europe, or new york state or cali for that matter) to raise dairy cattle and make traditional, crafted cheeses. small wisconsin farmer co-ops are saving their family farms by turning out awesome organic, grass-fed and raw milk cheeses. i have to hand it to Lindsey and her neighbors in 'sconny, they have got some great artisanal cheese, and imo are much maligned by the whole misconception that "cheese product" comes from WI and not much else. the reality is that there are some real heroes of the cheesemaking world in WI.

                                          wisconsin's impressive dairy stats:
                                          http://www.wisdairy.com/Upload/statistics/wi_rank_nation_dairy_industry_2006.gif

                                          nyt article on WI/CA cheese dominance:
                                          http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/30/us/...

                                        2. re: soupkitten
                                          v
                                          vino5150 Feb 28, 2008 06:36 AM

                                          Did you ever think that there would be water buffalo in VT. Woodstock Water Buffalo makes Italian-esque buffalo-style milk mozz in addition to it's buffalo milk yogurts, etc. Not exactly the same thing as Italy, but who knows where they will be in 10 to 20 years. A lot of producers buy there milk from either a farm or a conglom, which does not make them farmstead...but that doesn't mean that they can't make great cheese. In Woodstock's case they own there own heard of water buffalo. Just awsome stuff here in the states. Actually I used to sell a Buffalo milk brie made in England which was tasty. There's such a vast assortment of food items out there with flavors similar/different that run the spectrum. That's why we love this stuff!!!

                                          1. re: vino5150
                                            k
                                            KevinB Feb 28, 2008 07:16 AM

                                            Although I live in Toronto, my family owns a cottage on Lake Champlain in Quebec, just a mile or two north of Vermont. We've spent many happy hours driving the backroads of both Quebec and Vermont, finding individually owned bakeries, butcheries, and cheese makers, and being astounded by the quality and taste of their products. A good sharp VT cheddar? Compared to the K***t plastic you find in most Canadian and US stores, it's a whole new dimension in taste. And, unlike staid Ontario, Quebec allows raw milk cheeses; on our last trip to Montreal, I think my wife spent close to an hour at a supermarket - not a specialty store - going over the incredibly wide selection of cheese available. Our only disappointment was not being able to get fresh cheese curds (we wanted to make poutine at home), but the clerk apologized, telling us they usually sell out before noon.

                                            1. re: KevinB
                                              v
                                              vino5150 Feb 28, 2008 10:51 AM

                                              I used to get cheese from Chapute (sorry about the spelling) which I found terrific. Unforetunately, like everything, the price was high...for me at least through this one vendor. Canada has some great cheese producers.

                                      2. r
                                        rfneid Feb 27, 2008 08:46 AM

                                        You're evidently eating only processed cheese, otherwise you would have discovered the vast array of artisan cheeses that are the equal of any in the world.

                                        1. v
                                          vino5150 Feb 27, 2008 06:45 AM

                                          I guess that maybe you were on the wrong tour bus of NYC. Here in CT, we have some great artisan cheese makers. Cato Corner in Colcester produces a washed rind, raw milk cheese that will knock your socks off. Speaking of which...at the INternational Food Show 2006 at the Javits Center, Cato Corner had a huge crowd of Europeon cheese makers wondering how in the hell was he able to make such phenom cheese. Mark must be doing something right. The Liuzzi family makes some of the best Italian style cheese, fresh ricotta, mozzarella and what not hands down anywhere. Beltane Farm makes great gota chevre...the list goes on and on. The Farmer's Market on Saturdays in Wooster Square was recognized as one of the BEST farmers' markets in the country. We must be doing something right in the U.S.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: vino5150
                                            MMRuth Feb 27, 2008 06:47 AM

                                            I think it can be easy, however, for a visitor not to run across those cheeses, unless they made a special effort to seek them out, which I don't think the OP said he did - his comment just struck me as a general comment on the cheese he came up on during his visit.

                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              v
                                              vino5150 Feb 27, 2008 07:50 AM

                                              true true....In CT you have to literally do your homework to search out a lot of these producers and market. I have found NYC to be easier in locating great food products...especially cheeses. But hey...it depends on the person, time and what not. I went to Dallas, TX a few years ago and that was on my list of thigs to search out. I went to Central Market which is like Wholefoods on steroids. Found some great local cheese...chevre in particular. Also, I've had the pleasure of knowing some these cheesemakers just from working in the business so it was kind of my job to be the know of the who, what and where of most of these guys. i love giving the local guys the kudos that they deserve.

                                          2. KaimukiMan Feb 26, 2008 10:29 PM

                                            Americans can and do make great cheese. It is not widely available. Europe has had over a thousand years to create a tremendous variety of cheeses that vary from region to region, with each area passing its cheesemaking lore down from generation to generation. And the cheese you find in one region, you will not find in another. Until the last century or so I would imagine it would have been difficult to find Stilton in Munich, or Roquefort in Brighton.

                                            American is a land of newcomers, and we are highly mobile. Even the most stable of us would be hard pressed to trace our ancestry in one town back to the revolution. We value this homogenization. We are glad that we can find the same cheese or beer or pasta or... in Bangor as we can in San Diego (or even Honolulu). Over time that is slowly changing, and I have no doubt that in another century or two, more and more regional products will become available. Of course we will expect them to be available outside that region, so we will have to fight the constant "mass produced" battle as far into the future as I can imagine. I'm not convinced its all such a bad thing.

                                            1. cassis Feb 24, 2008 06:29 AM

                                              OK, my two "sous" worth in reply to this challenge--
                                              1. wonderful artisan cheeses have been developed in the US recently but they are few relative to the overall size of the country, only available in specialty stores and relatively expensive. They are considered a gourmet item and not part of the daily diet.
                                              "Artisan" cheeses have been made in Europe for hundreds of years, and like with wine, terroir determines the variety. The bacteria that results in brie is not the same as the bacteria that produces chaource.
                                              In Paris near the Gare St Lazare there is a restaurant that serves only cheese, last time I was there (1972) they offered 250 varieties from France alone, www.androuet.com, and France is the size of Texas.

                                              Which reminds me of a joke about Charles de Gaulle...

                                              You can walk into any small village market just about anywhere in Europe and find a decent selection of "artisan" cheese, and even street markets have a stall offering perhaps a dozen fine cheeses by the slice. The point is that cheese in Europe is a diet staple, not a high priced "gourmet" item.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cassis
                                                Vetter Feb 24, 2008 10:27 AM

                                                The OP should check out the Portland OR farmer's market and then reevaluate. When I lived there two years ago, we routinely had 6 local cheesemakers. That's not bad at all--those are just the folks who decided to make the drive.

                                                I'm immensely fond of my home state's cheese offerings, especially Monteillet Fromagerie in Dayton, WA, and Estrella Creamery in Montesano, WA. Glorious stuff.

                                              2. thew Feb 23, 2008 07:33 PM

                                                there are tremendously good cheeses made across america. This is like judging all american cooking by going to macdonalds AND burger king.

                                                upstate NY produces fantastic cheddars and goat cheeses, california has some remarkable dairy's etctcetc

                                                of course this reminds of a conversation i had in Goa once. English guy was trying to get my goat, said "we should cook and eat all americans". i replied, "that's all well and good, and you might be right, but o refuse to be cooked by the british"

                                                1. Mr Taster Jan 10, 2007 06:12 AM

                                                  Fascinating perspective!

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. s
                                                    Stek Jan 10, 2007 04:30 AM

                                                    Folks... the flavor of cheese is such a matter of opinion - three people taste the same cheese with three different results. Now there are definitely some fantastic cheeses being produced in the US, Sweet Grass Dairy in GA, Uplands Cheese in WI, Major Farms in VT to name a few. How do they compare to Euro cheeses? Some do and some do not. I work at a cheese shop in the Midwest and the most intriguing question I get is "Do you have any white cheddar?" The concept that anything other than swiss and provolone are white or that the natural color of all cheese is relatively white is mind bogoling to yor average American. WHen and where I grew up the only good cheese was orange cheese and the first time I encountered a white cheddar it was a powdercoat on my popcorn! Now I work with a multitude of cheeses everyday and find myself having to explain to adults that cheese in not naturally orange, and that it still tastes good if you don't add the coloring. You'd be surprised at the number of people who scoff at me and want nothing to do with all that "wierd" stuff I'm tryin to pass of as cheese. You know , the funniest bit is that I still believe that Velveeta makes the best Mac & Cheez. ramblin' on....

                                                    1. m
                                                      mikiesmom Jan 6, 2007 04:19 AM

                                                      Those of you who were kind enough to offer suggestions deserve a standing ovation. To stevenjf, my suggestion is the next time you visit, bring your own cheese with you.

                                                      1. gridder Jan 5, 2007 11:26 PM

                                                        It has been said, but I'll say it again. We may make some decent cheeses here, but they are often hard to find and buy. If you go to a run-of-the-mill eatery anywhre outside of a major metropolitan area, the cheese is junk. I live in the largest milk-producing county in Wisconsin, and do you think that we have decent cheese in the stores here? No way. Same old, same old Presidents brie and cheddar that is worse than Kraft. It is embarrassing.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: gridder
                                                          m
                                                          MakingSense Jan 6, 2007 12:02 AM

                                                          There are places where the traditions of cheese making never died out in America. Among ethnic groups such as Italians. Among the Amish. Even in rural areas. Of course you aren't going to find it in big stores but I've always found it in local and farmers' markets. You can go right to the Maytag store in Newton, Iowa, and buy any number of cheeses have been made for years right behind that building. Vermont has a long tradition of craft cheesemaking.
                                                          Too many Americans got used to one-stop shopping and didn't patronize farmers' markets and local sources. The food nannies told them if it wasn't sealed in plastic it was suspect. Even on this board, it's sometime all about brand names which discourages some from trying an unfamiliar product.

                                                          1. re: gridder
                                                            Cremon Mar 15, 2007 12:23 PM

                                                            I've been in Theresa Wisconsin and had some incredibly delicious high end cheeses. I don't live in Wisconsin - but as a cheese lover, I LOVE Wisconsin and thank heaven that it is there. There ARE some boring cheeses there, but I went to a cheese shop in Theresa and was stunned.

                                                          2. flourgirl Jan 5, 2007 10:50 PM

                                                            One of the best artisan cheesemakers in the country IMHO is Jonathan White of Bobolink Farms (cowsoutside.com). He makes raw milk cheese from his grass fed cows that is just delicious. And I believe Mr. White's cheese is now being exported to Europe.

                                                            1. a
                                                              Annabelicious Jan 5, 2007 08:40 PM

                                                              My father's a Brit - from cheese country actually - and he thinks the extra sharp Cabot from Vermont is better than British cheddar!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Annabelicious
                                                                sailormouth Jan 5, 2007 11:14 PM

                                                                I also happen to generally prefer Vermont (and let's not leave out Massachusetts, NY, Quebec and New Hampshire) cheddars to British ones, but I think they're really very different animals. It's like comparing a great dane with a toy poodle, they're both great dogs but. . .

                                                                Guess what we've been able to get lately in better supermarkets? Fresh (cheddar) cheese curds!

                                                              2. f
                                                                Fleur Jan 5, 2007 07:01 PM

                                                                The average French person has never tasted really good cheese. They eat the processed, mild flavored heese found in their own supermarkets.

                                                                The French taste in cheese, as well as their eating habits, has changed enormously since WW11. When most people did not live in cities. and came home for lunch, cheese was a part of the meal almost every day. Cheeses that are stronger in taste and don't keep ,have long disappeared from the table, and the cheese platter after dinner from most restaurants.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Fleur
                                                                  Cremon Mar 15, 2007 12:19 PM

                                                                  Finer restaurants (at least near Atlanta GA where I live) never list the cheese pate on their menu. But most of them do provide one if you ask. Not all have lost the tradition. Canoe in Vinings and Bistro VG (used to be called Van Gogh's) owned by the Sedgewicks offers one too.

                                                                2. m
                                                                  marlena spieler Jan 5, 2007 12:28 PM

                                                                  dateline: Hampshire, UK.
                                                                  Today I was at my local ASDA; they had a pile of cappucchino flavored white stilton. as i looked at it in horror, a man came up to me and said: you think this is bad, over at morrison's they had stilton in three layers: cheese flavor white, chocolate flavor brown, and mint flavor green.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: marlena spieler
                                                                    Carrie 218 Jan 5, 2007 05:30 PM

                                                                    Thank you for the laugh of the day, Marlena! As a Brit would say it, "F***ing Brilliant!"

                                                                    1. re: marlena spieler
                                                                      rworange Jan 5, 2007 08:05 PM

                                                                      On the SF board a few people were talking enthusiastically about the lemon stilton they bought. Are there any legitimate stilton flavors other than ... stilton?

                                                                      1. re: rworange
                                                                        m
                                                                        marlena spieler Jan 6, 2007 02:34 PM

                                                                        actually, i quite like stilton with diced apricot.

                                                                        1. re: rworange
                                                                          yayadave Jan 6, 2007 03:51 PM

                                                                          Excuse me. I thought Stilton was a registered and protected label in Great Britain. Just as you can not make cognac in Italy or Scotch in Japan, you can only make Stilton under strict procedures in Great Britain. In that case, who is making juju flavored Stilton?

                                                                          1. re: yayadave
                                                                            rworange Jan 6, 2007 07:57 PM

                                                                            http://www.stiltoncheese.com/UK/other/retailers.cfm

                                                                            They have Safeway in the UK?

                                                                            http://www.cropwellbishopstilton.com/...

                                                                            A little ginger, sundried tomato, mango or blueberry in in your stilton?

                                                                            Turns out there is such a thing as white stilton which doesn't have the mold. That's what is used for these flavored stiltons. Actually there were a few raves for the green "mint & chocolate" Stilton sold at Morrisons ... though most people are appalled at the thought and won't buy it. It seems like white stilton might have an affinty for mint as there are some recipes using both ingrediants.

                                                                      2. o
                                                                        onthepicnic Jan 4, 2007 10:36 PM

                                                                        because in America they are fairly recently beginning to focus on and reward artisanally produced, high-quality cheeses; just as it is a recent development in Europe to focus on and reward food fears and homogenized, over-processed foodstuffs.

                                                                        1. s
                                                                          Stek Jan 4, 2007 03:00 PM

                                                                          Check out Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor or on the Web. They get an 18 month Montgomery's Cheddar hand selected by their cheese buyer when he visits Neals Yard Dairy every January. They also have a huge selection of American farmstead and creamery cheese. One particular fav is Toussaint from Sprout Creek Farm in upstate NY.

                                                                          1. a
                                                                            afm Jan 4, 2007 03:24 AM

                                                                            If you have access to a Whole Foods Market, you will find a very nice selection of high-quality cheeses.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: afm
                                                                              Cremon Mar 15, 2007 12:15 PM

                                                                              I fully agree!!

                                                                            2. limster Jan 4, 2007 01:56 AM

                                                                              Try the Hubbardston Blue Goat and Blue Cow from Westfield Farms in MA.

                                                                              1. a
                                                                                allegro805 Jan 3, 2007 05:29 PM

                                                                                I just want to thank you all for so much entertainment. Posts like THIS are the reason I 'waste' so much time on this site during the day when I should be...er... working.

                                                                                1. w
                                                                                  Wisco Jan 3, 2007 05:25 AM

                                                                                  In light of this incendiary topic, I thought it was hilarious to discover that the British advertising for cheese will soon be banned during kids' programs: cheese is "junk food," you know.

                                                                                  (Also note the hideous processed cheese package used to illustrate the story.)

                                                                                  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main....

                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                    mpalmer6c Jan 3, 2007 03:46 AM

                                                                                    Silly. You weren't even looking. I live in a city of only 50,000 or so and can find dozens of good to excellent (non-processed) cheeses. Next, you can visit California and complain the jug wines are inferior to Lafite.

                                                                                    -- Mike Palmer

                                                                                    1. d
                                                                                      dnamj Jan 2, 2007 09:02 PM

                                                                                      Sally Jackson in Washington is one of the world's greatest cheesemakers. Samish Bay Nettle Gouda also in Washington. I won't even start on how many great cheeses come from Canada or Mexico, and I won't get into Wine and Beer either. However, I will defend the poster on one point:

                                                                                      Many American producers, and this seems to be an increasing trend, ad infected with a certain hubris, an ingrained distain for old-world traditions. There are many many wonderful kids who are turning to small farming as a way to opt out of the horrific rat-race that the business world has become, and I love them for doing it. It is really hard work. Sadly, though, many of them love the european ideas of using "wild yeat" and "natural fermentation", but are not knowledgeable about how to make these things work. I think a very valuable experience would be for all Americans who are just getting into the food production business, and who want to emulate old-world techniques, should really apprentice in Europe (or wherever their inspiration is). There are a lot of disastrous experiments coming out of the small farms these days, over-salted, unevenly ripened, or just plain dirty products. I realize I am all the way on the end of the bell curve since I know a lot of these people and I eat a lot of handmade products produced locally.

                                                                                      Boiling it down: when it comes to cheese and other european-based products, let's have some respect for the traditions that made them great.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: dnamj
                                                                                        pikawicca Jan 2, 2007 11:16 PM

                                                                                        Capriole Farms here in Indiana has interns every year from Europe, coming here to learn how to make goat cheese. Go figure that one!

                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                          d
                                                                                          dnamj Jan 3, 2007 05:18 PM

                                                                                          Excellent news. I think this type of cross-pollination is necessary and wonderful. By the way, I've had their cheese and it's wonderful.

                                                                                      2. d
                                                                                        Docshiva Jan 2, 2007 01:35 AM

                                                                                        The US does absolutely have world-class cheeses. Take this from someone who's first UK destination is Neil' Yard. But you won't find them at most supermarkets. Cheese stores, some smaller supermarkets, Food coops, etc. Next time you come over, post here and ask for a decent cheese shop recommendation. Of national chain markets, Whole Foods is the best bet to carry some great US made cheeses.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Docshiva
                                                                                          Cremon Mar 15, 2007 12:14 PM

                                                                                          Whole Foods DOES have a LOT of fantastic cheeses!! I haven't found Maytag blue there yet.

                                                                                        2. jen kalb Jan 2, 2007 01:29 AM

                                                                                          The cheese industry (I am talking big business) is huge here and pretty dominant. The regulation and training are all geared to pasteurized (ostensibly entirely for health reasons), bland industrial type mass-market cheeses. So fine cheesemaking has historically (Im talking of the last 50 years, the only part I know about) been on the margins, just hanging on in the NE, for example with cheddar and colby traditions and some other places, until recent years when the boom in artisanal cheesemaking took hold, people started studying in Europe and working with sheep and goat milk, making bleus, soft-ripened cheeses, etc. and a market and distribution chain for fine US cheeses developed. Fine US cheeses are there for the finding, now.

                                                                                          Its ironic that the cheese "industry" in the EU is now in the process of attacking the artisinal makers through regulation pushing pasteurization and factory production.

                                                                                          Im speaking as the daughter of a dairy scientist who was always very picky and on the lookout for "off-flavors" in cheese, and a believer in pasteurization. He has enjoyed european cheeses a great deal when visiting there, however.

                                                                                          1. j
                                                                                            Judith Jan 1, 2007 10:16 PM

                                                                                            Artisanal goat cheeses in the California Bay Area are wonderful. I have no idea if they are marketed outside this part of the world.

                                                                                            1. Mr Taster Jan 1, 2007 06:51 PM

                                                                                              About a week ago I watched an interesting "Frontline" documentary titled "The Persuaders" in which they put the advertising industry under a microscope. In one of the segments they interviewed a French advertising guru who talks about the difference between marketing cheese to French people versus Americans.

                                                                                              You can watch it here-- the segment I'm referring to appears in chapter 4, about 1/3 of the way into the clip.

                                                                                              http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontli...

                                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                m
                                                                                                MakingSense Jan 1, 2007 10:40 PM

                                                                                                Thank you, Mr. Taster! That is a great piece.
                                                                                                One of the clearest explanations I have ever seen of how marketing works. The reptilian brain.
                                                                                                The only foolish people are those who think they are immune to it.
                                                                                                Even what we reject is driven by marketing.

                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                  yayadave Jan 1, 2007 11:25 PM

                                                                                                  Fascinating!

                                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                    welle Jan 4, 2007 08:39 PM

                                                                                                    Thank you, mr. Taster! I watched all first 4 episodes - fascinating! I'm now dying to figure out the code word for 'luxury'.

                                                                                                    1. re: welle
                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                      laylag Jan 4, 2007 10:18 PM

                                                                                                      Thank you mr. taster. Great segment. I'm going to watch the rest of the episode and the others when I have more time. Cheese in the U.S. is dead huh and in France they don't refrigerate it. Is it that all cheese in France is never refrigerated ever? I've been there several times and not observed that. Interesting.

                                                                                                  2. TonyO Jan 1, 2007 05:23 PM

                                                                                                    God Bless America and our varied tastes. From the Cheez Whiz served in the finest double wides, to the Aged Shelburne Farms Cheddar that adorns tables of those with wealth, we are a country of choices, both good and bad. You can not force someone to like a particular food item even if your preference is for said item. Yes, we are a country that over consumes large quantities of mediocre food and beverages but we are also a country of diverse heritage, economic standing, and as Zebcook pointed out, huge geographic expanses. There are regional food items served throughout this fine country that many fellow Americans have never tasted or possibly ever heard of. If we are to be based on our cheese alone, I bet we could (and in many cases have) assembled a selection that rivals the rest of the world. We are also a country that recognizes quality and will import such items to "act globally".

                                                                                                    Happy New Year to all Hounds around the world even if they are eating Velveeta !

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: TonyO
                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                      Fleur Jan 1, 2007 09:23 PM

                                                                                                      HAPPY NEW YEAR to you as well. There are times when nothing compares to Velveeta, just at certain times only finest French Roquefort will do.

                                                                                                      1. re: TonyO
                                                                                                        sillyrabbit Jan 3, 2007 03:51 AM

                                                                                                        Excellent post! I'll toast to that!

                                                                                                      2. z
                                                                                                        zebcook Jan 1, 2007 04:24 PM

                                                                                                        Sheesh!

                                                                                                        This is one of those false arguments that ignores a huge number of factors that have nothing to do with liking or disliking cheese or the ability to make it. It's pretty much like asking "Why can't the british make good bbq?" I'm pretty sure some can, but there are lots reasons why they don't. Regulations that have been mentioned are one, milk pricing, farm subsidies, and economics are others.

                                                                                                        One big reason Europeans looking at America overlook, misunderstand, or ignore is geography. Take Arizona (where I'm currently living). It has a land area more than twice that of England, 114,006 to 50,085 sq. miles (the last according to the BBC). Nobody is going to imagine Arizona as a dairy state (120 dairy farms in AZ to 11,000 farms in England, approximately). Add to that the 100+ degree summers here, it is pretty easy to see why there's precious little in the way of locally made, artisanal cheeses here.

                                                                                                        Now, I can get good cheese, but that means it has to be shipped, refrigerated, from some distance. If I want something, say from Cowgirl Creamery, that's almost 800 miles. That's equivalent to shipping your local cheese from London to Milan. (How many different English cheeses show up in a Milanese cheese shop do you suppose?) That's going to drive up price. This changes it from an everyday cheese to special selection cheese. It is now an issue of economics -- mine, the producer's, the distributor's, and the retailer's. To keep a cheese affordable, economies of scale, distribution, etc. start to weigh heavily.

                                                                                                        It's not that American's don't like, won't eat, or can't make good cheese.

                                                                                                        Zeb

                                                                                                        BTW, Sainsbury's website lists it's fair share of uninspired, processed cheeses too.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: zebcook
                                                                                                          w
                                                                                                          Wineman Jan 7, 2007 02:23 AM

                                                                                                          Well said.

                                                                                                        2. m
                                                                                                          marlena spieler Jan 1, 2007 02:51 PM

                                                                                                          Sometime last year The Independant in the UK ran a story asking just that question, and asking it rudely and, as most of us who have responded might well agree, robustly ignorantly. I noticed that no one commented, no one took the Independant down a strip in any other publication. It was simply taken at its word: americans make terrible cheese. full stop. everyone knows this. (interestingly, a few months later at the london=based world cheese awards, california placed 13 awards!).

                                                                                                          i wonder why the myth that america has no cheese persists, esp when american cheesemakers keep wining international cheesemaking awards. i mean, california chevre was recently bought by a french company, and vowed to not change the recipe, citing it being delicious as it is. i think that its just easy to point at the dayglow orange plasticky stuff and say: oooooh, aren't they bad! they know nothing about cheese!

                                                                                                          but one could do that in the uk as well, for in addition to a fantastic array of excellent cheeses, and a renaissance of traditional cheesemaking, there are far far far too many horrid faux cheese processed things being marketed. if you count the number of cheeses being made in britain today, a far larger number are just these horrors instead of the true masterpieces that their traditional ones can be.

                                                                                                          who doesn't love humbolt fog? maytag blue? grafton cheddar? ig vella's aged dry jack?

                                                                                                          but i too wish that americans would eat and appreciate cheese more often on its own rather than always cooked with things, or on a cheeseplate with too many chutneys and fruit and nuts, or in a sandwich.

                                                                                                          i don't think we need to make more wonderful cheeses, rather we need to appreciate the ones we have.

                                                                                                          if you live in nyc, i'd like to recommend visiting balducci's on 14th and 8th ave, for the wonderful cheesemonger--named Hakim, he has a love and appreciation for cheese that is aweinspiring. he'll know what cheese you want to eat even if you don't--just ask him! and tell him i said hello.

                                                                                                          yours in delicious dairyfoods,

                                                                                                          marlena

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: marlena spieler
                                                                                                            Gary Soup Jan 1, 2007 03:02 PM

                                                                                                            Thanks, Marlena. That ought to melt the opposition....

                                                                                                            http://tinyurl.com/yfpxha

                                                                                                          2. Karl S Jan 1, 2007 01:16 PM

                                                                                                            Maybe it's just New England and California, but a number of finely crafted US cheeses are readily available in our supermarkets. Supermarkets in NYC are, however, a poor measuring stick to compare for the whole nation; they are notoriously skimpy.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Karl S
                                                                                                              LNG212 Feb 23, 2008 06:42 PM

                                                                                                              um, surely you jest, right? NYC supermarkets may be small but they carry amazing stuff. So far no cheese has been mentioned in this thread that I haven't seen at my local Fairway or the greenmarket.

                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                                                                                v
                                                                                                                vino5150 Feb 27, 2008 06:33 AM

                                                                                                                That's 100% not true. I've been to many NYC markets and they caried a wide variety of superb artisan cheeses. Unless you're just going to the local Stop & Shop, you're missing out. Even Balducci's or Wholefoods has a good stuff. Even, Murray's at the train station has good stuff. I guess you've never heard of the Artisan Cheese Center in NYC. But it just maybe a matter of preference, taste and standards. Yours might be different than mine or hers and no one can take that away from you. Always good conversation though.

                                                                                                              2. mamaciita Dec 31, 2006 09:47 PM

                                                                                                                Anyone tried Capriole Farms goats' milk cheeses? They're a favorite here (and local).

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: mamaciita
                                                                                                                  pikawicca Dec 31, 2006 10:54 PM

                                                                                                                  Absolutely awesome! My favorite cheese in the world used to be a ripe and runny Alsatian Muenster. It's now a ripe and runny Mont St. Francis from Capriole. This stinky cheese rocks!

                                                                                                                  To the Brit who disses our cheeses: Anyone who comes from a country that embraces the wet and chalky Wensleydale should hang their head in shame and slink from the room.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mamaciita
                                                                                                                    casehere Jan 6, 2007 03:31 AM

                                                                                                                    Capriole Farms!!! Judith Schad's cheeses are phenomenal!!! Do yourselves a favor and try her Mont St. Francis (mentioned above) and her Wabash Cannonball.

                                                                                                                    1. re: casehere
                                                                                                                      maria lorraine Jun 3, 2010 11:15 PM

                                                                                                                      Agreed. GREAT stuff.

                                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                                    JeremyEG Dec 31, 2006 09:41 PM

                                                                                                                    "Despite the huge number and quality of the wine producers coming from California and probably elsewhere these days , i can't imagine ( despite what gary_soup says ) however that you will get close to our beer , ale , stout and lager ever..."

                                                                                                                    Is the OP comparing wine to beer now? That's like saying no matter how many pubs serving fish and chips pop up in the UK, it will never be as good as a slice of NY Cheesecake.

                                                                                                                    1. f
                                                                                                                      Fleur Dec 31, 2006 08:43 PM

                                                                                                                      There are some fine, even outstanding cheeses "Made in the USA", but you won't find them at the Supermarket. There are specialty cheese shops popping up all over, outside of the Metro area.

                                                                                                                      That being said, American Supermarket cheese is no worse, often better than the cheese found in French and English markets. Most of the cheese consumed in France is NOT artisinal AOC cheese, it is processed and mass produced, and sold in French markets. Outside of small rural and local production on the spot , to get the real deal, you have to go to a specialty Cheese shop, which is very, very expensive.

                                                                                                                      1. l
                                                                                                                        lyn Dec 31, 2006 08:36 PM

                                                                                                                        I will say as another poster did that WE are influencing the rest of the world for the worse bad habit/food wise. The last couple times I was in W. Europe, people were pushing and shoving for Budweiser. I about had a heart attack. I am in these amazing ancient pubs with hand drawn beer and they are ordering Bud. The cheese WAS still good though! It is only a matter or time before our plot of world domination is complete. You guys: stuffing your maws with velvetta and coors lite and taking to mini vans. We: fancy cheese and local beers all the while tooling around on our nationwide public transportation system. Uh Huh

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: lyn
                                                                                                                          Karl Gerstenberger Jan 1, 2007 02:04 PM

                                                                                                                          I've witnessed the Bud degredation too. Exceptionally fresh, dynamic, traditional beer being passed for Clydesdale output. The forces at work in Germany are indicative of the trends under globalization. The beer industry has been on the downslope for over a decade. As a result there's been a massive consolidation implosion and great old brands are being gutted. Changing the label machine and putting a new carton at the end of the bottling line represents a great loss of personality and individuality. Buy what's real or kiss it good bye.

                                                                                                                          1. re: lyn
                                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                                            laylag Jan 4, 2007 10:01 PM

                                                                                                                            Are you certain it was American Bud? I don't drink/like beer but my DH said that when he was in Germany (more than 15 years ago) the locals were drinking Bud, which he despises, and he was shocked until he looked and tasted and realized it was a completely different product. Made by AB but for export to Europe and it was not anything like the weak, yellow stuff we have here.

                                                                                                                            1. re: laylag
                                                                                                                              l
                                                                                                                              lyn Jan 5, 2007 01:03 AM

                                                                                                                              I hear you. I have heard this theory about the germans brewing it as well...and I do believe it is a different product, but it still sucks I am told. Beer fans internationally say young euro trash (save me the trashing) is drinking the stuff to identify with American culture (insert gasp if needed). People who have had the product in both places say it is indeed better in W. europe and pure Pi$$ here...I dont care if it is slightly better there. The craft cask conditioned beers found throughout many countires in Europe are amazing. I say "many of" b/c I do not like Scandinavain beers, but love English, Scotish, and German. And Good lord if I ever went to Belgiam you would never hear from me again...

                                                                                                                              1. re: laylag
                                                                                                                                Karl Gerstenberger Jan 5, 2007 11:20 PM

                                                                                                                                AB has actually built a pipeline to the EU. It's made from a continuously extruded Bud can.

                                                                                                                                In all seriousness AB has started test marketing organic beer. Imagine how broad their market share will become, tree huggers and loggers can now be unified in the source of their refreshment.

                                                                                                                                Wikipedia says: Overseas, Anheuser-Busch operates 15 breweries - 14 in China and one in the United Kingdom; In China, A-B operates Budweiser Wuhan International Brewing Company, Ltd. and Harbin Brewery Group Ltd which A-B fully acquired in 2004. Chinese production of AB products in China started, in Wuhan, after their purchase of a local brewery in 1997. In the United Kingdom, the Budweiser Stag Brewing Company Ltd. produces and packages Budweiser.

                                                                                                                                Budweiser is also locally brewed in eight countries outside the Unites States. They are: Argentina, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea and Spain.

                                                                                                                                Anheuser-Busch strategic equity investments include:

                                                                                                                                * 50% of Grupo Modelo in Mexico
                                                                                                                                * 27% of Tsingtao Brewery Company Ltd. in China
                                                                                                                                * 30% of craft beer Red Hook brewery

                                                                                                                                As of 2006, almost 1/3 of the Anheuser-Busch workforce can fluently speak Mandarin and English, to streamline production.

                                                                                                                            2. k
                                                                                                                              KTFoley Dec 31, 2006 08:21 PM

                                                                                                                              Seems that the OP had no interest in the last ten years' advances in US cheesemaking and didn't seek out any of the fine results.

                                                                                                                              The rest of the original post -- including the follow up that dismisses a similar progress in craft brewing -- is just a generalized slam and a dated one at that. Using food as a pretext for continental bigotry doesn't make that bias any less tiresome.

                                                                                                                              1. e
                                                                                                                                emilief Dec 31, 2006 08:16 PM

                                                                                                                                Vermont has many wonderful cheese makers including artisinal cheese makers.

                                                                                                                                1. Betty Dec 31, 2006 06:52 PM

                                                                                                                                  also, some states do not allow the mixing of cow and goat milks for cheese, which eliminates some options.

                                                                                                                                  Like lots of things, it is out there, it just takes some good shopping to find. Even my little town, whose restaurants many of you would scoff at, has a cheesemaker in the county that specializes in Spanish cheeses, and another who makes goat cheese.

                                                                                                                                  1. s
                                                                                                                                    stevenjf Dec 31, 2006 06:42 PM

                                                                                                                                    well everyone , i wrote this controversial statement as one to draw a response and have enjoyed the strand hugely so far .

                                                                                                                                    i do believe that all americans should be forced to eat a full range of cheese from mild to highly mature in all the huge number of varieties that exist today in europe , it would make you all better people !

                                                                                                                                    yes we ( brits and europeans ) probably are lightyears ( as gusofsteel states ) ahead as some of you have stated and i hope that you guys catch up soon , because you are missing out big time . there is nothing quite like the class of a mild but complex chevre or the big noise ( or stink ) from say a munster or pont levec . its sad that your gov has prohited 60 day old plus raw milk . several interesting points are made by swissfoodie , lyn , hotoynoodle and cary 218 too .

                                                                                                                                    i couldnt go everywhere in manhatten when i was there for such a short trip but i will def make a point of visiting your specialist cheese shops ( Murrays and Saxlebys in the Essex market ) next time and sampling some of your home grown wares and look forward to it very much next time .

                                                                                                                                    Despite the huge number and quality of the wine producers coming from California and probably elsewhere these days , i can't imagine ( despite what gary_soup says ) however that you will get close to our beer , ale , stout and lager ever , but i suppose you never know ! i would highly recommend a budvar from the czec republic any day ahead of a budweiser!

                                                                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: stevenjf
                                                                                                                                      MVNYC Dec 31, 2006 08:11 PM

                                                                                                                                      None of us were referring to Budweiser. We were referring to the smaller producers. unfortunately you cant get any of it across the pond and do have to do some searching for it in The US.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: stevenjf
                                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                                        KTFoley Dec 31, 2006 08:16 PM

                                                                                                                                        "prohited 60 day old plus raw milk ."

                                                                                                                                        To clarify, what is prohibited is raw milk cheese that is LESS THAN 60 days old. Cheese over 60 days, raw milk or not, is fine.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: stevenjf
                                                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                                                          Fleur Dec 31, 2006 08:49 PM

                                                                                                                                          Before you get too comfortable on your high horse, remember that Artisanal Cheese is one of first products to suffer from the huge bureaucratic mess that is the EU Nanny State. Forcing the productions to conform to Euro standards, instead of the much higher French and Italian standard has done much to hasten the destruction of the high quality Cheese we knew and loved.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Fleur
                                                                                                                                            Karl Gerstenberger Jan 1, 2007 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                                            Precisely the right tone for the initial flame.

                                                                                                                                            There are interesting forces at work these days. Artisinal foods consumed by an elitist minority (Posh Nosh), industrial mass produced foods with artisinal style labeling, marketing control boards defending their ground legally, organic labeling, cooking shows on television.... The reality is that we're all becoming a hell of a lot more alike and the world flatter. Finding artisanally produced food is a lot like finding good fine art of any kind. We should all be willing to pay the premium and go the distance. If we don't support the producers, they'll all simply fade away when the romance of the business meets the bottom line.

                                                                                                                                            Saying that there's no good cheese in the U.S. is like saying that all the food in G.B. is fish and chips.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Karl Gerstenberger
                                                                                                                                              f
                                                                                                                                              Fleur Jan 1, 2007 09:27 PM

                                                                                                                                              Agree totally. The interesting comparison can be made between the ever more centralized , dictatorial from above, monarchical centralization, now being seen in the EU and the free Market,open, competitive, entrepreneurial mode in the US. Those factors make the US a vibrant,dynamic, exciting place for creativity in the arts, extending to cuisine.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fleur
                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                mateo21 Jun 3, 2010 10:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                Fleur, I'm sorry, but you just made me laugh -- thanks :) I needed to brighten up my day a little bit!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Karl Gerstenberger
                                                                                                                                                lulubelle Mar 14, 2008 02:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                "Saying that there's no good cheese in the U.S. is like saying that all the food in G.B. is fish and chips."

                                                                                                                                                Silly, we all know that all they eat is Chicken Tikka Masala.

                                                                                                                                                Seriously, I don't quite get this holier-than-thou attitude that Europeans have when it comes to things like cheese. Yes, they make some great cheese there, but I know plenty of Brits who live on processed food, just like I know Americans who buy all their cheese at the farmer's market even though the stores are filled with Velvetta. It's pretty small-minded to assume that all of us are the same, isn't it?

                                                                                                                                            2. re: stevenjf
                                                                                                                                              hotoynoodle Jan 1, 2007 02:28 PM

                                                                                                                                              europe has had thousands of years at making these sorts of things. we are newbies in the time line.

                                                                                                                                              but you might want to take your "you guys" brush and put that aside around here. as far as appreciating finer foods, beers and wines, don't you think you're preaching to the choir?

                                                                                                                                              and if you couldn't decent cheese in nyc, i'm wondering if you ever left your hotel. artisan cafe has over 100 cheeses available everday.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: stevenjf
                                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                                melly Jan 2, 2007 03:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                who wouldn't?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: stevenjf
                                                                                                                                                  Striver Jan 2, 2007 05:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Next time you're in town, go up to the Harlem Fairway, a supermarket - not a cheese speciality shop like Murray's - with a good cheese selection, including a nice sampling of artisanal American cheeses. When you're done, walk down the block to Dinosaur BBQ, and try some of the 25-30 microbrews they stock, both bottled and draft.

                                                                                                                                                  Then try posting again; possibly you'll have something informative to say on the subject. Provocation is easy - useful information takes a bit of work (fortunately, in this instance it's very pleasant work).

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Striver
                                                                                                                                                    jen kalb Jan 2, 2007 08:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                    the OP is a foreign tourist - he's entitled to state his impressions which are probably accurate given the cheese he would have been exposed to through normal eating-out activities in NY. We have a ways to go getting our artisanal cheeses front and center in normal folks consciousness.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jen kalb
                                                                                                                                                      Striver Jan 2, 2007 11:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                      The OP is someone who states that he has been to "a great many places in the United States" and who was just in Manhattan where it's really not hard to find good cheese - a simple query on Chowhound would have provided many quick responses; his plaint smacks of easily remedied indolence to me. YMMV.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: stevenjf
                                                                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                                                                    MacGuffin Jun 2, 2010 03:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                    "i do believe that all americans should be forced to eat a full range of cheese from mild to highly mature in all the huge number of varieties that exist today in europe , it would make you all better people ! "
                                                                                                                                                    Hmm..."forced to" to "make [us] all better people." Now there's a suggestion that just warms the cockles of my Libertarian heart.

                                                                                                                                                  3. m
                                                                                                                                                    MakingSense Dec 31, 2006 04:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                    You could not have tried very hard in Manhattan if you didn't find excellent American cheese. You are living in the stereotype of bad American food.
                                                                                                                                                    Sorry, Steve, those days are over!
                                                                                                                                                    Sure, we have processed junk and a lot of our middle and working class buys it, but I've seen what's in European supermarkets and not everyone across the Pond was buying wonderful cheese there either. You have some pretty mundane stuff in addition to your superb products.

                                                                                                                                                    To correct some misinformation:
                                                                                                                                                    US law prohibits only the importation of raw milk cheeses.
                                                                                                                                                    Fine artisanal raw milk cheeses are made - perfectly legally under state laws - in VT, VA, MA, PA, KY, CA, OR, CT, GA, WI and there may be more states where it is allowed. Lobbying is underway to change laws in other places because this craft is exploding due to demand.

                                                                                                                                                    Along with changes in laws and technology to accommodate the surging knowledge and interest in artisanal products such as fine cheeses (not to mention beer, wine, meats and other products), Europe should watch out! Our products are already winning international competitions.
                                                                                                                                                    Sneer now. Cry in your stout later. Or our stout - which may well be better quality.

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                                                                                      Melanie Wong Dec 31, 2006 05:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                      US law prohibits the sale of raw milk cheeses that are less than 60 days old, imported or domestic. There are many imported raw milk cheeses available here, e.g., Parmigiano-Reggiano.

                                                                                                                                                      And, yes, I agree with you that the majority of cheese consumed in Europe is no better than what's found in our American supermarkets. The appreciation for artisanal products is waning in Europe while its increasing here. Just as one goes to a specialized cheese store here to find the top products, the same holds true here.

                                                                                                                                                    2. hotoynoodle Dec 31, 2006 04:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                      i think amerians are accustomed to and therefore prefer blander tastes. the minority chowhound population aside, budweiser, et al. outsell microbrews by a massive margin; artisinal cheese, honey, vinegar, chocolate and bread are difficult for many in the country to obtain, so they don't bother. americans, being the fattest citiizens on the planet, would also rather buy a hunk of kraft cheddar for melting on their nachos, instead of a small piece of humboldt fog to savor.

                                                                                                                                                      terrible eating habits, general laziness, fear of the new... all add up to a very mediocre marketplace. but that's ok. it means there's more for me!

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                                                                        f
                                                                                                                                                        fara Dec 31, 2006 08:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                        it also means quality is harder to find and more expensive.

                                                                                                                                                      2. pitu Dec 31, 2006 04:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I just got back from the midwest united states (minnesota/wisconsin), where I had the most amazing aged cheddar. It was almost like a good parmegiano-reggiano in texture . . . it was quite like great aged cheddars I remember from england.
                                                                                                                                                        it was indeed not too popular among all the locals, but it was available.

                                                                                                                                                        Come to think of it, I've had similar cheeses from Vermont.

                                                                                                                                                        OP, where did you go for cheese?

                                                                                                                                                        1. l
                                                                                                                                                          lyn Dec 31, 2006 04:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                          I think we are only at beginning when it comes to beer. At least we are appreciating something other than Bud et al. sadly though, many of the microbrewers think throwing silly amounts of hops in the brew alone makes the beer good. We'll get there one day though. Europe has had centuries to perfect their fine beers so I cut us a little slack. I agree about the fine food exposure issue swissfoodie brings up. until fine items are side by side on the shelf (and not just at the gourmet market), non food fans will not be exposed and will continue to accept substandard cheese, bread, chocolate, beer...

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lyn
                                                                                                                                                            MVNYC Dec 31, 2006 06:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Really good microbrews simply do not throw hops into a beer to make it taste better. American brewers produce a wide array of beer styles, some based on classic European styles, some creations all their own. If you think American craft beer simply equates with the Double IPA, you are mistaken. While the 2XIPA is an American invention(and one i love, for they are more than mere hop bombs) American brwers make wonderful, porters, oatmeal stouts, belgian style ales, even some good pilseners much better than their European counterparts. I am by no means a flag waiving patriot, but i really do think American brewers are creating wonderful products that can more than hold their own with any European beers.

                                                                                                                                                            Cheesewise, I would have to agree somewhat with the original poster. The major problem in the US is that most Americans do not appreciate good cheese(or beer for that matter) and just happily eat whatever crap is sold at the supermarket. Food in general is less a fuel and more an enjoyment for the majority of Europeans than it is Americans. You can find the good local cheeses in america, they are just harder to find and fewer in number than what you get across the pond.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Gary Soup Dec 31, 2006 04:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Just bide your time. 35 years ago you could have said the same about American beers. Now we probably have as big a variety of high-quality small brewery products as any country in the world (and certainly have outstripped the UK in that respect). We have the affluence and a latent demand for boutique cheese products, and the supply side is just beginning to wake up.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gary Soup
                                                                                                                                                              The Chowhound Team Jan 1, 2007 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                              NOTE, some interesting points have been made about beer on this thread. We've moved part of the discussion to the Beer board and hope those with similar points to make will share their thoughts on this thread http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356046

                                                                                                                                                            2. l
                                                                                                                                                              lyn Dec 31, 2006 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I think a more apt question would be "why don't {the majority of } Americans appreciate good cheese?".

                                                                                                                                                              17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lyn
                                                                                                                                                                Carrie 218 Dec 31, 2006 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Because {the majority of} Americans only get supermarket processed cheeses that are a far cry from the sturdy, artisinal cheeses that most Europeans are accostomed to. The Brits take their cheeses very seriously and only American "foodies" can claim to do likewise.

                                                                                                                                                                Swissfoodie is correct - until Americans get over their germaphobic fear, we will live a processed, tasteless country.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Carrie 218
                                                                                                                                                                  dkstar1 Jan 1, 2007 09:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Americans don't have a fear of germaphobia. It's about being sued. Which, as we all know, doesn't make any sense anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dkstar1
                                                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster Jan 2, 2007 02:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes but Americans weren't nearly as afraid of being sued in the early 20th century when widespread pasteurization of milk began. The situation today is that over time, pasteurization now occupies the same quadrant of the American mind as washing your hands after using the toilet. Pasteurization has simply become part of our sanitary-centric culture. Europeans have gone down a different track in this regard, but sadly their food supply is rapidly being Americanized

                                                                                                                                                                    The problem is not that American cow milk is inherently dirty. It is that the farms they are raised on are cesspools, and the diseased cows transfer their filth to the milk.

                                                                                                                                                                    I think that the prevailing idea in America is that it is better to over-sanitize rather than the reverse. Which in theory I agree with, however like most things in America, it has been taken to extremes.

                                                                                                                                                                    Read up on raw milk:
                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.organicpastures.com/faq.html
                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.realmilk.com/untoldstory_1...

                                                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                                      sailormouth Jan 4, 2007 02:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      As a roommie to a high-end butcher and cheese-show owner and semi-retired chef (I'll pause for a moment to let you recover from your jealously). . . FDA is very strict on the import of certain cheeses and meats as well as on their production. I think the high-end suffers immenseley here (remember when it was nigh impossible to get a steak rare?) when one set of rules applies to everything, from Kraft Singles to roquefort.

                                                                                                                                                                      For some truly incedible American cheeses, (as well as plenty of foreign ones) try Formaggio in Boston, Cambridge and I think NYC now, and (bonus!) they ship: http://formaggio-kitchen.com/

                                                                                                                                                                      In New England, anyway, we can get pretty good local cheeses and okay foreign ones in most of our supermarkets, I don't know if that's a regional thing or not.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sailormouth
                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                        jwagnerdsm Feb 28, 2008 08:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        What is a "cheese-show owner"?

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                                        a_and_w Jan 5, 2007 08:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        "I think that the prevailing idea in America is that it is better to over-sanitize rather than the reverse. Which in theory I agree with, however like most things in America, it has been taken to extremes."

                                                                                                                                                                        I think that's right on target. Witness the divergent reactions btw the US and Europe regarding irradiated food.

                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: dkstar1
                                                                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                                                                        suse Jan 4, 2007 11:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Okay, I agree that Americans are afraid of being sued, but they are probably more afraid of germs. I'm a German American (have been here most of my life) and I'm constantly amazed by the obsession with refrigeration. My great aunt Lydia has never had a fridge and she's going strong at 94. Keep something out for more than two hours and an American would throw it away. Honestly. I've been made fun of by friends for keeping things out occasionally. I have a good friend from Brazil who buys eggs and just keeps them on the counter. I don't do that myself, but amazingly, she's not dead yet.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: suse
                                                                                                                                                                          sailormouth Jan 5, 2007 01:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          This ties in a bit to the sprawl debate, but I bet your aunt Lydia goes to the grocery more than once a week. At any rate, pasteurization and refridgeration don't necessarily mean bad cheese. You can get Cabot cheeses in just about any supermarket and while they're not hoity toity, it's a very respectable cheese for the great unwashed.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sailormouth
                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster Jan 5, 2007 04:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            It depends on the reference point you're starting from. The "everyday" cheese for Americans far and wide is the square slice of american "processed cheese product." When that is your baseline, Cabot must be like nectar from the gods.

                                                                                                                                                                            However if you're European, when your "everyday" cheese is a raw milk gouda you buy from the cheese shop down the road (or even the supermarket, which happens in Europe), your baseline standard is different.

                                                                                                                                                                            This debate isn't about "fancy gourmet cheese" versus "regular cheese". It's really about real food made with ingredients you recognize (milk, cream, salt) vs. fake industrialized food (soy filers, preservatives, and not a single drop of milk) where the nutrition and flavor has been sucked out. Somewhere along the line, America forgot what real cheese is (I would debate bread as well, but that's a different thread... let's stick with cheese).

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm always trying to influence my mom, a child of the industrialized 1950s, who has great faith in "normal" supermarket food and sees organics as wanton excess. One of my greatest victories with her was convincing her one day to skip the green can of Kraft parmesan and buy a block of real parmesan. She couldn't believe how much better the "gourmet" cheese tasted versus the green can she had been using for decades. I tried to emphasize to my mom that there's nothing "gourmet" about real cheese. Somewhere along the line she was convinced that the green can is real cheese, just like Kraft has convinced people that the "slice" is real American cheese. Now my mom says she will never go back to the green can, but she still thinks that buying real cheese is a "gourmet splurge" (when in fact I would bet you that pound for pound of a standard parmesan it's about the same price, since a block of parmesan can last for so long)

                                                                                                                                                                            I have a long way to go before I've fully converted my mom, just as American society as a whole has a long way to go before they realize fully that real food has been slowly switched out of their plates. The big difference with Europeans is that they still know what real food is and have an appreciation for it. I don't see that as "hoity toity". I see it as sensible, knowing that the cheese you eat actually *is* cheese. With milk.

                                                                                                                                                                            Just my 2 cents.

                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                                                                                              MakingSense Jan 5, 2007 05:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Not all Europeans "know what real food is and have an appreciation for it." Educated Euros complain just as much as people on this board do about what their society as a whole is willing to accept as everyday fare.
                                                                                                                                                                              Many Americans have a romanticized notion of Europe as a culinary Disneyland of fine artisanal products easily available on every street corner to the masses. Even Americans who have been fortunate enough to travel through Europe have picked and chosen the finer things and haven't experienced the food of the common working man or, worse, the unemployed or rural people who have limited choices.
                                                                                                                                                                              Vin ordinaire can be swill and some local beers are just awful. I've had cheeses that reeked and I like strong cheese. Bread is often par-baked in factories and finished somewhere else rather than baked from scratch in many places. There are highly processed foods in supermarkets that are even more tasteless than some of our US products.
                                                                                                                                                                              We sadly lost a lot of food tradition in the US but it is coming back quickly and strongly. It's not helpful to think that we or our products are inferior to Europe.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster Jan 5, 2007 10:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Sure, I don't doubt that educated Euros may lament the downward trend of their food supply. But I bet you that if you asked them to switch with America, they would very quickly admit that they're still a lot better off than we are.

                                                                                                                                                                                Do you doubt that if we surveyed the populations of America and Western Europe about their favorite cheeses, per capita you'd have a helluva lot more Velveetas on the American side? (And if you argued that "alginate" and "apocarotenal" are not legitimate ingredients for cheese, you'd likely be labeled an out of touch liberal.)

                                                                                                                                                                                While Europe may be in the process of transitioning to American food habits, the point is, you *can* still go to many random supermarkets in many random small towns in Holland, for example, and buy a decent (compared to its US counterpart) raw milk gouda from the cheese case. That's simply not the case with your average American small town supermarket (but if you want some Cheez Whiz, I bet you they've got that.)

                                                                                                                                                                                Remember that it is generally only since WWII that our collective tastebuds have been retrained to accept inferior processed substitutes for the real thing... accepting sacrifices in quality for the sake of convenience. Sure, Minute Rice sucked (invented 1949)-- it sort of fell apart in your mouth and on your tongue felt like the stuff they fill padded envelopes with. But hey, it's done in a minute! One Minute Rice after another crept into our society until now, when we're surrounded by Minute Rice equivalents every hour of every day. Take a step back and consider how much American food has changed over the last 60 years. It's staggering to consider. Yet it didn't happen all at once.

                                                                                                                                                                                Europe may be well on the Minute Rice road to American style food processing, but they still have quite a long way to go before their general populations have been sufficiently retrained to believe that the green can is an acceptable standard for parmesan cheese. Oh sure, there are probably some people in Italy eating green can parmesan on their pasta right this very moment. But the point is that while they're eating it, they still know it sucks. They haven't yet forgotten what real parmesan cheese is. Most American families have.

                                                                                                                                                                                There's no reason for that to be, other than that's just the way things are now. That is my lament.

                                                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                                                                  MakingSense Jan 5, 2007 10:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, the Euros would say they are better off because they always think they're better off than America. Always have. But in reality, day to day life has never been that different between the two. There may be 400+ cheeses in France, but in a small town a shopper has a choice of only a few. The one baker is open a few hours and offers a limited selection. Same with the other merchants. They rely on seasonal produce or what they preserve. Not much different from living in a small town in Arkansas. Years ago, there was good hoop cheese, decent bread, fresh local produce and dairy. Transportation and shipping has changed that for better or worse on both Continents. Products have to have longer shelf life and appeal to a broader audience. Often it makes them worse. Such is modern life.

                                                                                                                                                                                  People have been complaining about the loss of quality as long as I can remember and there are untold references to it in literature. The internet and media have amplified the noise. But it's not "Americanization," and we shouldn't drink the Kool-Aid. Some of the processes such as pasteurization come from Europe, remember.
                                                                                                                                                                                  It's not valid to extrapolate from the experience of the Kraft sawdust cheese on your family dinner table to all of the foodways of America. I was born just after WWII and know many whose taste buds have never been retrained and probably never will be. In many quarters the old ways were never lost, people never devolved to the level of Minute Rice and retain pride in their food heritage. This still exists throughout America just as in Europe and we shouldn't condemn or praise either with a broad brush.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Frankly, to me the saddest loss is that so many Americans have abandoned their own ethnic food heritiges. Young cooks strive to cook perfect, authentic Asian, Latin or other ethnic meals but can't cook - and often reject - the foods of their own German, Scotch, Czech, Russian, Jewish, Danish or Portugese grandmothers. We are losing touch with who we are as a people. The French are downright chauvanistic about their French cheeses. Don't challenge an Italian about pasta or a Spaniard about jamon serrano. Why do we always act like everyone else is better?
                                                                                                                                                                                  We should seek out America's best, buy it, promote it and be proud of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense
                                                                                                                                                                                    yayadave Jan 6, 2007 02:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    All that, and not just about food!

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: dkstar1
                                                                                                                                                                          a_and_w Jan 5, 2007 08:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          No, it's not lawsuits so much as big brother -- the FDA is pretty strict about the raw milk regulations.

                                                                                                                                                                      4. re: lyn
                                                                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                                                                        swissfoodie Dec 31, 2006 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Well put however, an appreciation for good food items and being able to make the distinction between what is good and poor quality comes from being exposed to quality products...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lyn
                                                                                                                                                                          u
                                                                                                                                                                          uptown jimmy Dec 31, 2006 08:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          >I think a more apt question would be "why don't {the majority of } Americans appreciate good cheese?".<

                                                                                                                                                                          That nails it.

                                                                                                                                                                          But it is changing. I've had some great American cheeses recently, notably a really mild white cheddar at a local restaurant here in Athens. It was almost as smooth and creamy as mozz, with a little kick to it. I think it was from Vermont.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lyn
                                                                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                                                                            melly Jan 2, 2007 03:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            You nailed it lyn!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. l
                                                                                                                                                                            lyn Dec 31, 2006 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            well I will say US makes some excellent cheeses ie Cowgirl Creamery products, however they are not as easily available as good cheeses in Europe, where fine cheeses abound at every turn. The same goes for good beers and to some degree things like bread and chocolate. Yes, we have all the finest things here, but the appreciation and demand for them is not as high as in Europe so they are harder to find and could leave a vistitor passing through with the impression all of what we have is garbage.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. s
                                                                                                                                                                              swissfoodie Dec 31, 2006 03:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                              Isn't the original question sort of contradictory? Americans and cheese? Let's face it, until they lose their fear of the unpasturized, Americans can convince themselves that they make good cheese but the harsh reality is that they can't. Sometimes it's just better to be honest and accept that we can't be good at everything...

                                                                                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: swissfoodie
                                                                                                                                                                                DanaB Dec 31, 2006 07:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                As others have pointed out, to say there is no good cheese made in America is the naive point.

                                                                                                                                                                                If you said that Americans do not have the same depth and breadth of artisanal cheese production that some countries in Europe have; or if you said that Americans have a small, yet, fantastic group of artisanal cheese producers, I'd be with you. But a blanket statement that "the harsh reality is that they can't" make good cheese is asking for a fight.

                                                                                                                                                                                Try out the following cheeses and then get back to me:

                                                                                                                                                                                Grafton -- Cheddar (VT)
                                                                                                                                                                                Maytag -- Blue (IA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Peluso -- Teleme (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Vella -- Bear Flag Dry Jack (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Fromagerie Belle -- chevre (AL)
                                                                                                                                                                                Cypress Grove -- Humboldt Fog (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Laura Chenel's -- chevre (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Montchevre -- goat's milk brie (WI)
                                                                                                                                                                                Redwood Hill Farm -- chevre and camellia (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Cowgirl Creamery -- My Tam, Redhawk (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Bellwether Farms -- Carmody (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Point Reyes Farmstead -- Original Blue (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Matos -- St. George (CA)
                                                                                                                                                                                Marin French Cheese Co. (Rouge et Noir) -- Le Petit Bleu, Yellowbuck Camembert, Breakfast Cheese (CA)

                                                                                                                                                                                Edited to add: the wonderful burrata cheese made by Gioia Cheese Co. right here in Los Angeles

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DanaB
                                                                                                                                                                                  Das Ubergeek Dec 31, 2006 11:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  What's funny is I take many of those for granted -- Laura Chenel chevre, Humboldt Fog (I swear they age it in crack cocaine), Point Reyes Blue, and Redwood Hill, who have a stand at my farmers' market, amongst others... and then when I go someplace that isn't as cheese-friendly I go crazy having to deal with what's available in crappy grocery stores.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DanaB
                                                                                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                                                                                    beef Jan 1, 2007 09:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve - the extra aged is consistently comparable in quality to any of the better Alpage cheeses I have had.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DanaB
                                                                                                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                                                                                                      laylag Jan 4, 2007 09:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Cypress Grove who you quote above for great Humboldt Fog also makes Midnight Moon. It's an aged cheese in their cream line and it's amazing. Try it when you can.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: laylag
                                                                                                                                                                                        Carrie 218 Jan 4, 2007 11:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        BTW, Cypress Grove has farmed out much of their cheese-making overseas (Holland, if memory serves).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Carrie 218
                                                                                                                                                                                          Melanie Wong Jan 4, 2007 11:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't believe that's correct. Cypress Grove's "creamline" includes the aged imported cheeses, such as Midnight Moon, but the other cheeses, such as Humboldt Fog are made on California's north coast. Midnight Moon and Lamb Chopper are both Dutch; Ewe-F-O is Sardinian.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                                                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                                                                                                            laylag Jan 5, 2007 01:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh well, although not to affirm the OP's point or contradict that there are, in fact, amazing cheeses made in the U.S., American made or not, Midnight Moon is killer.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Carrie 218
                                                                                                                                                                                            DanaB Jan 5, 2007 06:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            I find that hard to believe. According to Cypress Grove's webpage, their cheese is made in Humboldt County with goat's milk produced there, and they even have a section on the "terrior" that goes into making the Humboldt Fog.

                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/experience/section_2.0.html

                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/com...

                                                                                                                                                                                            Edited to add: thanks for clarifying, Melanie. Given the tenor of their webpage, it would seem to me that the majority of their products were made in Humboldt County, which sounds consistent with what you just posted.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DanaB
                                                                                                                                                                                              Melanie Wong Jan 5, 2007 06:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Again, as noted above, Cypress Grove's Creamline of three cheeses are made abroad under joint venture with European cheesemakers. But I doubt that those products constitute the majority of the company's production, and the remainder of the products are made on California's north coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                                                                                                                                                                Dommy Jan 10, 2007 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Having been to their factory... Most of their cheeses are made on-site, the two that come to mind that are not are Midnight Moon and EWE-F-O. Humboldt Fog is indeed a California Product. Last year I got to sample pretty much their whole line up... Love it!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/301602

                                                                                                                                                                                                That being said P. just called me from BH cheese shop, Where Norbert hooked him up with some amazing Goats Milk Cheese from Texas including a Triple Cream Goats milk!! I forgot to write down the name, but I'll be sure to post about that tasting! :

                                                                                                                                                                                                )

                                                                                                                                                                                                --Dommy!

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: laylag
                                                                                                                                                                                            v
                                                                                                                                                                                            vino5150 Feb 23, 2008 02:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Actually...they "sub contract" the midnight moon to a Dutch company that Mary Keene over looks everything. If you were to purchase a whole wheel and remove the wax, you will see the producers mark on the wheel. Still a very good cheese, one of my favs!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: swissfoodie
                                                                                                                                                                                          Mr Taster Jan 1, 2007 05:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          In the US, it is legal to use npasteurized milk in cheesemaking as long as the cheese has been aged 60 days or longer. (In fact it is legal to sell raw milk in certain states like California-- http://www.organicpastures.com/ produces excellent fresh, raw milk and other dairy products and is available at farmers markets in California

                                                                                                                                                                                          )

                                                                                                                                                                                          So no fresh milk runny brie but a 6 month raw milk gouda is fine (and delicious). One of my favorite American produced cheeses is made by a Dutch family in Winchester, CA... I pick it up at local farmers markets in Los Angeles.

                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.winchestercheese.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.slowfoodusa.org/press/farmstead_release.html

                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.cheesesociety.org/

                                                                                                                                                                                          Of course sadly, these are the exceptions, not the rule. But I agree that it is naive to make blanket, judgmental statements because they are rarely entirely true.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. m
                                                                                                                                                                                          MikeLM Dec 31, 2006 03:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Can you say, Maytag Blue?

                                                                                                                                                                                          Mike

                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MikeLM
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                                                                                                                                                                                            Stek Jan 4, 2007 03:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Maytag Blue has gone industrial. The original cheesemaker now makes cheese under the cheese label Great Hill Blue in Mass.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Stek
                                                                                                                                                                                              MplsM ary Feb 23, 2008 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Nope.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Maytag Dairy Farms
                                                                                                                                                                                              2282 E. 8th St. N.
                                                                                                                                                                                              P.O. Box 806
                                                                                                                                                                                              Newton, IA 50208

                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.maytagdairyfarms.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Stek
                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                jwagnerdsm Feb 28, 2008 08:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Where in the world did you hear that ? I live 30 miles from the farm / facility where the cheese is made and this is shocking news to me. Not saying it's wrong, but it has been underreported if it is true.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jwagnerdsm
                                                                                                                                                                                                  maria lorraine Jun 3, 2010 11:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It/s true, and I honestly think the same thing has happened to Pt. Reyes Blue. Yes, PRB is a smaller operation, but the cheese is not artisan to me. I've visited there and spoken with the cheesemaker (who used to work for Maytag). Now, Rogue River, that's a different animal. Exquisite stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. g
                                                                                                                                                                                              gutsofsteel Dec 31, 2006 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not a naive comment. Sure, there are a handful of good cheeses produced in the US. But relatively speaking, compared to England and the rest of Europe, the US is light years behind in quality and variety and volume.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Next time you come - go to Saxelby's in the Essex Market. They carry only US-made cheeses, and the stock the best of what the US has to offer. Which is a small selection, but there you go.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gutsofsteel
                                                                                                                                                                                                280 Ninth Jan 5, 2007 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Completely agree with gutsofsteel on Saxelby's....happened by during the holidays, and had some outstanding selections, including what the cheesemonger called "square cheese," a goat cheese with superb tang and depth of flavor. It was my impression that Saxelby's carries more local cheesemakers (Northeastern U.S.), but I hadn't asked for an inventory...just a bunch of wonderful tastes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gutsofsteel
                                                                                                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                                                                                                  MacGuffin Jun 2, 2010 03:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anne stocks the best of what the EAST COAST has to offer. There's plenty of good cheese made west of NYC that can be found at Murray's, Fairway, and Zabar's and more is being developed all the time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  US cheese makers may be playing catch-up but they're doing a hell of a good job at it. Stevenjf just didn't know where to look (although I suspect that even if he did, what he'd find wouldn't meet his exacting standards).

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. l
                                                                                                                                                                                                  lisa13 Dec 31, 2006 02:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you visit a decent cheese shop (Murray's comes to mind for NYC) you should be able to locate some really good artisan cheeses made in the US. There really are some great offerings, but you have to seek them out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  But yes, what you will find in the average restaurant or grocery is generally crap. No idea why that is - it is curious now that you bring it up. I wonder what happened to turn us to a bunch of "pasturized processed cheese food" lovers? Sad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. j
                                                                                                                                                                                                    JeremyEG Dec 31, 2006 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hey Steven,
                                                                                                                                                                                                    It sounds like you might be referring to American supermarket cheese. It's terrible and seems closer to the food at McDonanald's than anything else. Have you tried any cheeses made by small producers? Some are superb. Humboldt Fog comes to mind which is often considered one of the best goat cheeses anywhere in the world. Also Shelburne farms cheddar is served right along with Keen's, Montgomery, and the other great cheddars. And there are more than a couple. Go into a cheese shop (not a supermarket) like Murray's in the village. They stock hundreds of cheeses from all over the world and ask for some American reccs. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety. Most importantly, nothing you tsate will even remotely resemble "processed cheese food."
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Glad you enjoyed your visit and Happy New year!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jeremy

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JeremyEG
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                                                                                                                                                                                                      melly Jan 2, 2007 03:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Point Reyes Blue...need I say more?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: melly
                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                        cooknKate Jan 2, 2007 08:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        and Maytag Blue

                                                                                                                                                                                                        True vermont cheddar also stands out

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. dkstar1 Dec 31, 2006 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      what a remarkably naive comment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Clearly you didn't take the opportunity to try the wonderful cheeses from Cato Corner Farms, Cowgirl Creamery, Jasper Hill Farm and many other artisan cheesemakers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dkstar1
                                                                                                                                                                                                        tastyjon Feb 26, 2008 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's not naive, but merely a reflection of the market.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree there are top notch purveyors in the US, but much of what we find in average stores, markets and restaurants is created for the mass market. We also pasturize the heck out of everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Europe has managed to maintain a lot of individuality not only with in regions, but from town to town, if not dairy to dairy. They sell stuff to supermarkets, but they also sell stuff that is super ripe and needs to be eaten, fast!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Runny, stinky and riper than heck isn't a typical marketing positive in the US, but cheese lovers will know this is the time to order some!

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