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Which country has the most cheese-centric cuisine?

This thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/867756, got me thinking.

What cuisine uses the most cheese in their preps?

Is it Italian? Mexican? French? Spanish?

Some other cuisine?

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  1. Switzerland, England, Ireland, France, Italy? USA ;)

    1. My guess would be us (U.S.)...we'll put cheese in/on/under anything. Not that that's such a bad thing...

      1 Reply
      1. The US may consume the most cheese, with pizza a big factor, but I wouldn't call American cuisine "cheese-centric." For that I'd look to countries where cheese is featured in its own right, in dishes like fondue or as a separate course. Switzerland, maybe?

        1. the one with the most underdevolped pallet. so france

          1 Reply
          1. re: elkahani

            Hey, the french have drones, also...be on the lookout!

          2. Easily Switzerland. There are a number of dishes based entirely on cheese, and I happen to like nearly all varieties of cheese from Switzerland. Raclette is a favorite.

            1. I have to add Israel to this list - especially kosher Israel. When meat is cut out from a lot of meals - cheese/dairy really reigns supreme. I know that cottage cheese isn't necessarily cheese - but last year a major boycott in Israel happened when the price of cottage cheese was raised.

              1. I would say that north american cuisine uses a lot of cheese as an added extra or a garnish. Until I moved over to this side of the pond, I'd not had to request a menu item without cheese.

                1. USA,cheese is prevalent in every course.

                  1. "centric" is equivocal.

                    Greeks consumes more than twice the amount cheese on a per capita basis as Americans. France and the Germanic and Nordic countries eat more on a per capita basis.

                    But American cuisine is probably the most thoughtless about using cheese as a bonus feature. Part of this is that cheese is visually very appealing in food advertising (the color, texture, finish, et cet.), and naturally suggests abundance (the Land of Milk and Cheese, not Honey), and the subsidization of American cheese production and consumption has habituated Americans from their elementary school days to have strong liminal associations of cheese with comfort foods.

                    26 Replies
                    1. re: Karl S

                      I suspect those "thoughtless" factors apply equally to most other cuisines (particularly in first world countries) where cheese features heavily.

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        Except that the bulk of what Americans consume is mediocre cheese: American (which has one or two principal good uses: for melting on a hamburger or in a grilled cheese sandwich), various cheese food and cheese products (especially for nachose and other melted dips), mediocre cheddars, mediocre mozzarella and mediocre grated cheese (for pizza and Italian-American inspired dishes), and mediocre feta (for salad).

                        1. re: Karl S

                          Perhaps. But this thread is about quantity, not quality.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            But my point was in response to yours about thoughtlessness in response to mine.

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              If it's about quantity, then Karl S is right. Greeks consume the most cheese per capita, followed by the French. If the criterion is production, the US makes the most cheese annually, followed by Germany and France.

                              It's not clear to me, though, that this thread is about quantity. The OP asked about cheese-centric cuisine, not about the simple consumption of cheese. While I find the term "cheese-centric" ambiguous, I don't think the US has a cheese-centric cuisine. With few exceptions, Americans don't make cheese the star ingredient of dishes; it's usually an add-in/add-on. And most Americans don't end their meals with a cheese plate. If cheese-centric is taken to mean making cheese the central ingredient of a dish, then I agree with Tripeler that Switzerland is definitely in the running for top honors. I don't know enough about the food of Central Asian countries to corroborate luckyfatima's comments (below), but she also has a point. If, however, "most cheese-centric" refers to the country that is the most fanatical about its cheeses, then I would have to say that France takes the prize.

                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                The OP asked about cheese-centric cuisine, not about the simple consumption of cheese. While I find the term "cheese-centric" ambiguous, I don't think the US has a cheese-centric cuisine.

                                Yes, that's what I meant.

                                Certainly not consumption -- either overall or on a per capita basis.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  In your initial post you ask, "What cuisine uses the MOST cheese in its preps?" (I'm assuming preps means preparations.) Most is most definitely a quantitative adjective.

                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Yes, but that does not mean consumption.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Heh heh. Oooooookay...

                                      And for the record, I didn't inhale.

                          2. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Although the French eat a lot of cheese, it is not used so much in their cooking. The great exception is the Savoie, where pots of cheese, onions, bacon, and potatoes are made into a a myriad of dishes which all taste pretty much the same.

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              I don't think French culture is 'thoughtless' about cheese - you find it in certain dishes, but it's main position is as a special course unto itself after main courses - either instead of dessert or before. These are usually carefully made, carefully chosen, and eaten with focus and pleasure.

                              A far cry from the 'extra cheese please' culture in america that puts average/bad cheese all over our menus.

                              1. re: gingershelley

                                Indeed. That captures the distinction I was attempting.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Even in "gourmet" places especially in the US Midwest there can be a tendency for overwhelming amounts of cheese. At a locally well-regarded casual "gourmet" sandwich/salad/soup place here (see this menu: http://www.tastecafeandmarketplace.co...) their highly touted "truffle frites" has such gigantic amounts of fine ribbons of Parmigiano-Reggiano (good quality stuff, too) piled atop the frites that the last time I had it I had to literally pull off and push aside more than half of the cheese just to get to the frites; and that still left a vast amount of cheese that was now stuck to most of the frites.

                                  I described an "onion-flavored melted cheese with bread" dish on another thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4276... .

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    You are Asian and perhaps cheese averse? Gingershelly postured the matter eloquently.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      You asked me this in another thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/427677) where another poster answered for me appropriately: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4276... .

                                      1. re: huiray

                                        I posted elsewhere that my 4 Chinese/ Taiwanese housemates don't eat cheese. But an undisclosed aversion to cheese in general is suspect from one who is critical of cheese in a specific food preparation.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          I don't think I have not revealed my indifference to cheese. See this past post here for example: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7634... where you had also posted. I have related my indifference elsewhere too.

                                          What do you mean "averse" to cheese? Do you mean someone who does not eat cheese *at all*, like those housemates of yours?

                                          By the same token someone who keeps after another poster on their "aversion to cheese" but who does not disclose his fervent love of cheese is also suspect by your very own "standards", no?

                                          In any case, being "...critical of cheese in a specific food preparation" (your claim) is not the same as being critical of an EXCESS of cheese in a food preparation OR in the general way food is served such as is discussed here regarding common tendencies in USAmerican food.

                                          1. re: huiray

                                            Hark, the dreaded cheese cloud and curl up with the Good Book.

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              I'm overly candid about my love of cheese, and I'm critical of its excessive use in American-Tex-Mex, and I'm complimentary of judicious use of cheese in many regional/cultural preparations. I apologize if I ruffled your feathers.
                                              Do you like cheese?

                                  2. re: gingershelley

                                    Nevertheless, I expect cheese is just as appealing in French food ads as it is an Yank ads. I suspect, insofar as cheese suggests "abundance" to Yanks, it does as well to the French. And given the nature of the French economy, I'd be surprised if the domestic cheese industry there isn't more heavily subsidized (and protected by tariffs) than is the US cheese industry.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      Yeah, but they make the really good unpasteurized stuff we can't enjoy. Bummer.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Yes, I'd prefer the gubmint allow me to roll the dice on some unpasteurized fromage rather than dashing it from my lips.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          The US makes really good unpasteurized cheese, too, just not unpasteurized cheese that is destined to be aged less than 60 days.

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            Does El Salvador make unpasteurized cheese?

                                            Just curious, that's all ....

                                  3. The Mongolian diet, the diet in some Central Asian countries, and the diet of peoples in the Tibetan Plateau are all traditionally very cheese centric, probably more so than the diets of any of the cuisines mentioned above. The cheeses of these cuisines are cottage cheese varieties and dried, hardened cheeses make of fermented dairy and yogurt.

                                    1. Switzerland and France are the first that spring to mind.

                                      But what about the Benelux and Denmark? I suspect cheese features heavily--so to speak--in those countries, but this is a mere suspicion on my part.

                                      1. Does "cheese-like processed dairy product" count as cheese? If so then the U.S. wins.

                                        1. You may not have seen this recently resuscitated thread too: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/427677 which contains many of the points touched on or brought up by posters here in relation to this topic.