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

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!

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  1. 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

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

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

      1. 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

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

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

          5 Replies
          1. re: mamachef

            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

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

              1. re: mamachef

                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?

                1. re: Will Owen

                  Heidi herself didn't fascinate me. I just liked the story, but she was way too plucky and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"-style to appeal to me. The character I loved was the evil housekeeper who terrified me so much that I forgot her name..Frau something....but the pictures of her in the book were frightening. As to what she ate, I always fantasized her dipping dry rusk into tea made from used bags. Wait, was her name Frau Bluucher? No...no, that was the character from Young Frankenstein that Cloris Leachman did so brilliantly.

                  1. re: mamachef

                    mamachef, you're talking about Fraulein Rottenmeier! I remember being so scared of her -- even tho my mom was reading the book to us. ;)

                    Interesting that we never tried to replicate that cheese-melting scene.

          2. 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. 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. 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. 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.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bkeats

                    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. 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.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Will Owen

                      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 …

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        You bored me so much I responded to it. :) Yaaawwwwwnme.

                    2. 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 Reply
                      1. re: minutiae07

                        At any rate, I tried it with a thick slice of Velveeta, put into a 350 oven in an oven-safe dish. (I was 10, and yes, supervised.) So anyway, it got really shiny, and shinier, and it looked like it should be melting but wasn't really doing so, even though the edges were kinds bulgy where they'd been cut, and it was all very tiresome and then it got less shiny and the tips started to curl up and brown; that DESPITE the fact that nothing truly melty seemed to be happening, and then it smelled strange and my mother came in and took it out and we had a discussion about Real Food vs. Not Real Food, and the Velveeta never actually melted and that was that.

                        1. 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.

                          1. I watched heidi growing up (nostalgic) nd subconsciously i carried that habbit with me , everytime there's some edam cheesd in the fridge i'd stick it on a fork nd roast it , or put it in a microwave so it melts without burning