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Help me, cheese detectives! What is the cheese featured in Heidi?

s
sothisb Oct 12, 2012 03:04 PM

I am trying to figure out what kind of cheese is in Heidi (yes, that old book/movie about that Swiss orphan girl).

In the story, they put pieces of this cheese on sticks and roast it over the fire. You can see a glimpse of it in this clip (just after 3:25): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vseiZ...

Or, the quote from the book is: "meanwhile the old man held a large piece of cheese on a long iron fork over the fire, turning it round and round till it was toasted a nice golden yellow color on each side ... the old man filled her bowl again to the brim and set it before the child, who was now hungrily beginning her bread having first spread it with the cheese, which after being toasted was soft as butter"

If it helps, the book takes place on a goat farm in the Swiss alps, so it seems likely that it`s some kind of Swiss goats cheese, but there are no specifics in the book so it could potentially be any kind of cheese.

I`ve googled this so many times, but no luck! Im in Switzerland for the next two months though and I would really love to try it. I loved Heidi when I was little and I`ve been sort of weirdly obsessed with this idea of roasted cheese ever since.

Any guesses appreciated!

  1. c
    chocolatetartguy Oct 12, 2012 03:43 PM

    The Pasta Shop in Oakland, CA was grilling some sort of cheese at the Rockridge street fair last year. Don't recall the name and they ran out before I got there.

    What you describe sounds like raclette.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chocolatetartguy
      h
      Harters Oct 13, 2012 08:50 AM

      I agree. Description sounds like what you'd do with raclette.

    2. pinehurst Oct 12, 2012 05:08 PM

      I'm thinking maybe a Jockberg cheese. Can't be sure though.

      1. s
        SAHCook Oct 12, 2012 05:23 PM

        I found this with a google search: http://thefamilydinnerbook.com/in-the...

        It lists raclette cheese and gives alternatives. The method is not what was described in the book, but maybe it's a start?

        2 Replies
        1. re: SAHCook
          Wahooty Oct 12, 2012 05:54 PM

          I was going to say...sounds like raclette. :)

          1. re: Wahooty
            melpy Oct 13, 2012 04:13 AM

            +1

        2. mamachef Oct 12, 2012 09:09 PM

          I don't have a clue - but those passages in the book made me absolutely drool. I wanted that cheese so bad.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mamachef
            Veggo Oct 13, 2012 09:20 AM

            Those passages in the book made me drool also, but my youthful wantings were not so much for the cheese as for Heidi...

            1. re: Veggo
              mamachef Oct 13, 2012 11:26 PM

              Veggo, you slay me. Those were pretty pictures, weren't they?

              1. re: mamachef
                Will Owen Feb 3, 2014 02:39 PM

                Heidi didn't particularly appeal to me when I was eight or so, but poor little Clara was the first book character I fantasized about cooking for. If she just had some pancakes, I thought, that'd perk her appetite right up.

                I thought the cheese sounded kind of boring … but what the hell does a eight-year-old know?

          2. jmcarthur8 Oct 13, 2012 08:31 PM

            I have done that with cheddar in my fireplace, after reading some fairy tale to my sons in which the giant speared his cheese and browned it in the fire. It was excellent.

            1. Kat Oct 13, 2012 08:54 PM

              Jumped back years when I read this post...I also used to drool at the descriptions of this toasted cheese when I read Heidi as a kid. The only cheese I knew of at that point in time was the thin, sticky slices of "American cheese" that tasted like plastic and came individually wrapped. how sad!

              1. s
                sothisb Oct 13, 2012 11:14 PM

                Thanks everyone! I always figured it wasn't raclette since raclette is usually melted on a big griddle type of thing (or on a rock next to the fire) but if cheddar on a stick works maybe I'll just stick a piece of raclette on a stick and see what happens!

                1. b
                  Bkeats Oct 15, 2012 08:22 AM

                  I'm not aware of any cheese grilled on a fork dish in switzerland. Raclette and fondue, yes. Fork no. Don't know of many hard goat cheeses which is what you would need to grill over a fire.

                  May be this will help you. Seems someone else is focused on the same story.

                  http://www.justhungry.com/2006/02/hei...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bkeats
                    q
                    Querencia Oct 15, 2012 10:36 AM

                    I have read similar scenes in a lot of novels taking place in England in times past---students at school, for example, making "toasted cheese" eg cheese held over the fire on some kind of stick. Rooms then were heated with fireplaces so the heat source was easily available. And isn't there a cheese-toasting scene in Treasure Island? If you had a cold room with a warm fireplace and a tea tray with just bread and hard cheese on it, sticking some of the cheese over the fire to make it gooey and spreadable sounds like a good thing to do, obvious even.

                  2. Will Owen Oct 15, 2012 03:32 PM

                    I'm with everyone else who drooled at this scene. My mom was usually up for trying foods we read about in books, but although we had a fireplace and even a couple of toasting forks (we did do the occasional hot dog or marshmallows) she didn't go for this. Just wasn't sure, I suppose, about cheese running off into the fire.

                    Heidi was a bit too fierce for my taste; poor Clara was the one I wanted to rescue. I had daydreams about making her mounds of pancakes, which of course would induce her to regain her appetite.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Will Owen
                      Will Owen Feb 3, 2014 02:43 PM

                      Okay … after posting the bit above I see I'd said about the same thing two years ago. Tried to delete the new version but it wouldn't go away. How tiresome …

                    2. m
                      minutiae07 Jan 29, 2014 09:14 PM

                      I think the only way to figure it out is to try different cheeses that would be native to the area. I loved that book, and the description stayed with me, too - and at the time, I didn't even LIKE cheese. But, damn - I wanted toasty, creamy cheese with crusty bread, a big bowl of frothy, fresh milk, and to fall asleep in a barn, looking up at the stars, feeling loved. I think that changed my attitude about cheese (at the time, yuck! -only on a hamburger. Little did I know, in elementary school).
                      Off the top of my head, I would say, NOT Raclette. Raclette gets melty, not toasty. Maybe one of the harder swiss cheeses, or even (especially) some variety of goat cheese? I don't remember what time of year it was, when that scene took place.

                      1. h
                        HillJ Feb 3, 2014 04:07 PM

                        http://artisanfarmsteadliving.blogspo...

                        Maybe a goat's milk Swiss cheese?

                        1. s
                          Sharuf Feb 5, 2014 09:29 AM

                          My father's family came from Swiss alpine farmers, and they continued many of their traditions when they settled in Oregon.

                          The family cheese is made from cow's milk, and makes no attempt to be gourmet - it's a farmer's style cheese. It comes in a handy brick size, and is aged to about a medium consistency. It can be cut up (dad used to take a hunk of it with him when he was out plowing the fields). It can also be shredded for cooking purposes, or sliced and melted on top of bread. I never saw it melted on a fork, but it would have worked for that.

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