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Why don't Jews eat cheese?

AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 08:27 AM

I was on another thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/920210 where DevorahL asked where to buy really good supervised cheese, and I began to wonder.

It has been a decade or more since fine and artisinal cheeses began to appear on the shelves of kosher stores. Some American, some from Europe or Israel. Yet they are still scarce, often out of stock, and lots of kosher grocers hardly stock them at all.

It's not all that long since fine wine, lamb, wine vinegar, fine parve baking chocolate, and other pricey foodie delights first became available kosher in the U.S. These, however, are now widely available.

Obviously, if the demand was there, grocers would stock it.

And it can't be merely that it's new. A generation ago Jew (and no American) ate raw fish, cold rice, or pickled ginger.

So, can somebody please explain why Jews don't eat cheese?

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  1. s
    SoCal Mother RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 08:35 AM

    Many Ashkenazi Jews have a lactose intolerance.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SoCal Mother
      masteraleph RE: SoCal Mother Oct 14, 2013 08:44 AM

      Which shouldn't really be an issue with hard aged cheese. It makes sense for bleus and bries, but Romanos, Gran Padanos, Parmigiano Reggianos? Though I suppose that last category has grown more than the others recently.

    2. m
      masteraleph RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 08:39 AM

      I think a number of Jews do eat cheese. But there are a couple of problems:

      1) Cheese is expensive. Cooking dairy with significant amounts of cheese isn't necessarily cheaper than cooking meat (or at least chicken). And that doesn't necessarily make sense to kosher consumers, since they think of meat being expensive (hence the reason why meat restaurants tend to have more success). Kosher cheese is often more expensive than its equivalent in nonkosher, so there's also no market for the kosher stuff to those who don't keep kosher.

      2) Gevinat Yisrael also is an issue. Some Jews who keep kosher will eat unhechshered or Tablet-K cheese. And cheese for those who don't is more of a pain to make (which is why 5-Spokes went under Tablet-K).

      3) Along the same lines- a lot of the good imported cheeses are under a variety of European hechshers, which may be reliable but kosher stores and buyers aren't necessarily familiar with them.

      4) High end cheese counters cut a lot of the cheese themselves. That doesn't work for kosher cheeses.

      1 Reply
      1. re: masteraleph
        cheesecake17 RE: masteraleph Oct 14, 2013 04:54 PM

        I'm going to agree with you on #1.
        Cheese is not cheap- and you need more than just cheese to make a meal.

        A lot of people don't find cheese/dairy to be filling. Men, especially the ones I know, feel like a dinner of chicken/meat/steak is much more satisfying than a dinner that's cheese based.

        Another thing that's kind of common is the idea that meat is "party food" or more festive than dairy. Most weddings are meat. Many people cook primarily meat meals for Shabbat and holidays.

      2. a
        avitrek RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 08:51 AM

        Jews are still too trained to think about meat, meat, and only meat. It's the same reason dairy restaurants that are not pizza joints have a hard time surviving.

        I once overhead the staff at supersol say, "I don't know why anyone buys this stuff when they can use Miller's". With attitudes like that, I'm not shocked that higher end cheeses have trouble staying stocked in stores.

        1. chartreauxx RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 08:52 AM

          technically, many cheeses are not kosher because the enzyme used in a lot of cheesemaking, called rennet, is derived from the inside of the mammalian stomach (frequently calves' stomachs). due to the kosher prohibition on mixing meat and milk, this makes many cheeses off-limits to those who keep kosher. (as an aside, it also makes many cheeses NOT vegetarian, which i always get a bit of a chuckle out of). there are cheeses out there made with vegetarian rennet substitutes - usually not specialty cheeses anyway - but many of my jewish friends avoid cheese out of habit rather than attempting to investigate the manufacture details of a given cheese. also, ingesting cheese makes meat a no-go for up to 6 hours. these would be my guesses.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chartreauxx
            GilaB RE: chartreauxx Oct 14, 2013 09:12 AM

            The issue with rennet is not meat-and-milk mixtures; it's that the rennet needs to come from a kosher-slaughtered animal: http://www.kosherquest.org/book.php?i...

            Any of the cheeses being discussed above wouldn't require your friends to "investigate the manufacture details of a given cheese" because they're all kosher-certified.

            Only some hard cheeses require waiting afterwards before eating meat, not all, although I agree that's an issue: http://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-kos...

            1. re: GilaB
              chartreauxx RE: GilaB Oct 14, 2013 09:14 AM

              oops, right you are! missed the "available in kosher stores" bit! my bad, i was talking about not buying cheeses in general food markets.

          2. f
            ferret RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 09:21 AM

            Hard for me not to generalize, but the bulk of sales from my possibly limited experience is for American and string cheese with shredded mozzarella and cheddar probably a little farther behind. If I had to guess, that comprises 90% of Kosher cheese sales. The bulk of the remainder are Israeli cheeses or the odd havarti/smoked gouda.

            I suspect if buyers demanded it you'd see more of it, but my guess is the demand is so limited that no stores are willing to maintain inventory and eat the spoilage.

            1. d
              DevorahL RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 11:50 AM

              I wonder this too! I grew up keeping Cholov Yisrael, so when I switched to Cholov Stam as an adult, I was so excited for all the delicious new cheeses I would be able to try...only to find that the main differences were increased availability of junk food that is (IMO) of the same quality as the Cholov Yisrael stuff (candy bars and the like) and easy access to yogurt, milk etc. when traveling. But hardly any cheese!

              I do think many kosher-observant people are stuck in this mentality that dairy food should be cheap, simple and familiar, and that only meat food is worth spending money and time on, whether eating at home or going to restaurants.(I know there was recently a CH thread on this topic.)

              The large companies may not see the Cholov-Stam-eating-kosher market as big enough, and the small, artisanal companies may not be able to charge prices low enough that the average person would buy.

              1. e
                EvanM RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 12:55 PM

                I just saw some artisanal kosher cheeses from N. Carolina and read this about them

                2 Replies
                1. re: EvanM
                  rockycat RE: EvanM Oct 15, 2013 04:31 AM

                  I just (within the last few days) spoke to the cheese counter person at our local WF (in NC) about this cheese. It's expensive and I wanted an opinion before I bought it. The sour look on his face when I asked said all I needed to know. His feeling was that it's fine to want to support local businesses but he didn't think too highly of the cheese. I don't know whether this is a case of the cheesemaker being relatively inexperienced or the familiar attitude that the kosher consumer will be accept anything as long as the haksher is good.

                  1. re: rockycat
                    rockycat RE: rockycat Oct 21, 2013 05:52 PM

                    I had a chance to taste some of the Cultured Cow cheese this weekend at the NC State Fair. I had the Red Heifer Raw Milk Farmstead Cheddar and the pasteurized Farmstead Cheddar. Both are aged 4 months. They are OK-D, chalav yisroel, and KP. So...if you insist that your cheese be chalav yisroel, this cheese is worth seeking out. If you are fine with chalav stam or with Tablet K or with no hecksher at all, you can do better with what is already out there.

                2. jpr54_1 RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 01:05 PM

                  I think this topic would also be interest on the cheese board

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jpr54_1
                    Miri1 RE: jpr54_1 Oct 14, 2013 02:58 PM

                    I love cheese f all sorts. But growing up in SoCal in the late 70s and early 80s, there was little to be found, and certainly none at all in mainstream grocery stores. I remember my mother buying those huge oackages (108 slices) of American cheese and once in a while cheddar sticks. There wasn't much else.

                    A friend of ours ran a small kosher grocery out of her home for a time, selling a few more varieties of cheese but her enterprise didn't last long.

                    Then, for a very brief and exciting time, a mainstream company produced a kosher run. Munester and mozzarella, but what a treat.

                    And then Natural and Kosher came on the scene. I seem to recall it started with Mozzarella but we were thrilled. Me, especially because I loved the stuff and we couldn't get it often. Our mainstays, dairy wise, up till then, were cottage cheese and cream cheese. Lots and lots of cream cheese.

                    But yes, there s still a dearth of fancy, extic cheesees. I'm not complaining, though. All cheese is good cheese, as far as I'm concerned :)

                    1. re: Miri1
                      jpr54_1 RE: Miri1 Oct 14, 2013 03:19 PM

                      I grew up in The Bronx, New York in the 50's and 60's
                      In the early 70's when I married my husband-we had wine and cheese parties which were popular at the time. This was the first time I was introduced to all types of cheeses.
                      It also helped that my husband(b"h) was a Frenchman

                    2. re: jpr54_1
                      melpy RE: jpr54_1 Oct 15, 2013 04:56 AM

                      Perhaps you can post a pointer thread.

                    3. j
                      Just Visiting RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 03:25 PM

                      Jewish people eat cheese. And bacon. On cheeseburgers. It is just observant Jews who keep kosher to one extent or another. This subset will eat only kosher cheese.

                      It sounds as though you realize this and what you are really asking is why observant Jews (i.e., those who keep kosher) don't seem to be buying kosher cheese.

                      It is news to me that a generation ago, Jewish people ate raw fish, cold rice, and pickled ginger.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Just Visiting
                        queenscook RE: Just Visiting Oct 14, 2013 03:42 PM

                        As this is the kosher board, it's pretty much a given that the Jews being referred to are the ones "observant" of the rules of kashrut.

                        As to the line re: Jewish people ate raw fish, etc., I believe it was a typo, and OP probably meant to type "no Jew (and no American) . . ." emphasizing that sushi and the like were just not eaten by anyone a generation ago.

                        1. re: queenscook
                          AdinaA RE: queenscook Oct 14, 2013 03:49 PM

                          Thank you queesncook. That is what I meant to type.

                        2. re: Just Visiting
                          ferret RE: Just Visiting Oct 14, 2013 04:12 PM

                          Her question was more specific; she wanted to know why there wasn't more widespread demand among observant Jews for Kosher artisanal cheeses.

                        3. s
                          sharonfl RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 04:01 PM

                          I think masteraleph touched on some good points. I used to eat any kind of cheese and then decided to only use hechshered cheeses and was told some hechshers were not universally accepted. A lot of Jews are in that category. I too, am disappointed that as soon as a quality cheese arrives on the kosher scene it seems to disappear. If those cheeses are relegated to the kosher aisle of the store rather than mixed in with all cheeses, that seems to be the kiss of death.

                          1. bagelman01 RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 05:33 PM

                            Recently there was another thread on this board about the dearth of good dairy kosher restaurants......................

                            I am going to start my reply to Adina's post as I replied to the other thread.

                            There are many Jews in America who grew up in kosher homes who ate meat out only in kosher restaurants, but dairy especially cold, in almost any restaurant. Prior to the early 1970s kosher hard cheese was not commonly found outside of places such as NYC. Then, Miller's, Migdal and Haolam packaged cheeses showed up in kosher markets and some mainstream supermarkets in the northeast.

                            The Orthodox rabbinate in some major areas (St. Louis was one) allowed the consumption of Kraft brand American cheese.

                            The conservative movement permitted most cows milk cheeses made in America, but not items such as port wine cheddar which was very popular in the 70s. Readers of ths board must understand that most kosher food is NOT purchased by frum Jews. There are many people who buy kosher food and keep kosher homes according to their standards who are not concerned about hechscher cheese.

                            When I wed my ex-wife, she came from an European-traditional orthodox home. She went to day school and they kept a kosher home. But, they purchased any food in the mrket that had a hechsher. They didn't get into the politics of whether a Tablet K or Triangle K or OK was acceptable. In fact, my ex-MIL told me that as long as there was a hechscher on the package, if it turned out the product was not truly kosher, the sin was on the person placing the mark, NOT the consumer. Plenty of American Jews are happy to buy packages of kosher cheee marked with the Tablet-K hanging in the regular dairy section of the everyday supermarket.

                            As far as support for artisinal kosher cheeses: as explained above the market/demand is really small, much smaller than the market for kosher meat and poultry (much of which outside of NY is bought by Muslims) and the product is highly perishable. Suppliers can't afford to eat the spoilage on the retailers' shelves.

                            A wholesaler may bring in a few cases from Israel or France, but if it doesn't turn fast it will be a one time deal. Furthermore,unlike meat, many cheeses are seasonal and are not produced year round. That special cheese from a French Alpine valley may only be made once a year,or need to age 8 months befire it is saleable.

                            As to Adina's comparisons with other formerly 'limited' items now being widely available as kosher. Many of theseare widely available but just happen to be kosher:
                            I remember butying kosher Heinz Red Wine Viegar in the supermarket more than 25 years ago. Pareve chocholate has spread in availability in response to lactose intolerant consumers' demand.

                            Yes, there has been a revolution in fine kosher wines since about 1980, but that's 30+ years ago. I still don't see most kosher consumers willing to pay more than $200 per bottkle for a fine French Red.

                            I don't understand the comment about lamb. I am pushing 60 and grew up with my mother serving kosher lamb every other Tuesday night alternating with veal. It was only after the demise of local kosher saughterhouses and the appearance of the mega-kosher processors, such as in Postville, that specialty meats disappeared from the kosher butcher's cases. It is nothing new, the product is simply reappearing afternot being marketed by the megapackers.

                            The raw fish, cold rice and pickled ginger will be sold whether kosher eating Jews buy it or not. It again is just a case of regular food being put under supervision and sold to the kosher consumer.

                            If an ample supply of kosher rennet could be made available at a comparable price to treif rennet, then major producers of quality cheeses might start producing under supervision. But as long as the cost must be substantially higher and the product so perishable there is not likely to be enough demand to increase the supply.

                            Even back in the 70s when I was in the kosher catering business customers always experienced sticker shock when we quoted a dairy affair. Dairy cost more than meat.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: bagelman01
                              ferret RE: bagelman01 Oct 14, 2013 07:42 PM

                              I don't think there's a notable price difference between Kosher and treif rennet. Years ago I hung out with a friend who was a part-time mashgiach for a supplier for Miller's. I went with him to see a batch of cheddar being made and the cheesemaker had the vegetable rennet in large 5-gallon containers. I asked him about the cost differetial and he said there was none. Just checking prices online there isn't a notable difference.

                              1. re: bagelman01
                                avitrek RE: bagelman01 Oct 14, 2013 08:21 PM

                                The cost is not the price of the rennet. The cost is requiring a mashgiach to drop the rennet into every batch of cheese. That's why five spokes switched to tablet-k and cabbot is tablet-k except for one run around passover where they bring in a mashgiach who stays onsite for the run.

                                1. re: avitrek
                                  queenscook RE: avitrek Oct 14, 2013 08:46 PM

                                  I don't think Cabot does this anymore, or at least they didn't this past Pesach.

                                  1. re: queenscook
                                    avitrek RE: queenscook Oct 15, 2013 05:48 AM

                                    Which further proves the point that bringing in a full time mashgiach and housing him in Vermont is too costly to justify the sales.

                                    1. re: avitrek
                                      ferret RE: avitrek Oct 15, 2013 07:30 AM

                                      I don't think anyone has a full-time mashgiach. When I accompanied my friend he was at an independent cheesemaking (a little too small to call it a factory, they had 3 10,000 gallon vats) location making several tons of cheddar for Miller's. We watched the tanks get sanitized, "supervised" thd flow of milk to the tanks and then physically poured the rennet in. The dried curds were then placed into large drums with the Miller's labels applied and were then sealed for shipment to the location where they would be cut and packaged.

                                      This happened about once a month, so it wasn't anywhere near full-time. The rest of the time the factory made other cheeses for other clients.

                              2. m
                                masteraleph RE: AdinaA Oct 14, 2013 07:56 PM

                                FWIW, there does appear to be some penetration into different markets. My wife recently found a large selection of the Les Petites Fermiers cheeses (not exotic, perhaps, but a definite step up from Millers) in Goleta, California. Given the size of the kosher keeping constituency there (very minimal), this may be a sign of some sort of spread.

                                1. k
                                  koshergourmetmart RE: AdinaA Oct 15, 2013 07:54 AM

                                  if yo go to the shuk (mahane Yehuda) you will find a cheese vendor Bashar who has tons of special runs of cheeses as well as a kosher certified cheese bar across the street on Agrippas. He had numerous french cheeses, danish, norweigan, jarlsberg etc most of them I have never seen kosher certified before. I had the most amazing Village Oak Vintage Cheddar as well as a brown cheese from Norway with caramel notes. I looked at the kashrut sticker on the package before a sample was cut for me to try. There were tons of people buying. He has opened branches in other cities in Israel.http://basher.co.il/index.php?page=pa... http://jerusalemrestaurant.co.il/en/

                                  Of course that is Israel where there is a huge amount of kosher people but the demand is there.

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: koshergourmetmart
                                    DevorahL RE: koshergourmetmart Oct 15, 2013 02:06 PM

                                    So does that mean these certified, high quality cheeses exist, but are not being imported for some reason?

                                    1. re: DevorahL
                                      AdinaA RE: DevorahL Oct 15, 2013 02:10 PM

                                      Yes. You find wonderful cheese at kosher grocers in EU countries and in Israel.

                                      1. re: DevorahL
                                        ferret RE: DevorahL Oct 15, 2013 03:28 PM

                                        As discussed above, the reason is low demand. Kosher cheese is a very small segment of the market. Kosher specialty cheese is a very small segment of the Kosher cheese market.

                                        1. re: ferret
                                          bagelman01 RE: ferret Oct 15, 2013 04:57 PM

                                          It's not just low demand. It can be very difficult to get import approval from the USDA for many dairy products, especially from small producers.

                                          Not all non-US government inspection is approved by the USDA for import. There are often import quotas on food products, as well.

                                          The EU is a different situation, as once a product can get into one EU country, it can easily get into all of them. And if made in an EU country it can ship freely within the EU.

                                          Lastly, a European cheese may get into the USA via quotas or authorizations to the 'regional cheese board.' Thus all Italian Parmiagiana Reggiano comes in authorized by the controllato originale (SP?) but small kosher production may niot have the support of the regional marketing boards.

                                          1. re: bagelman01
                                            ferret RE: bagelman01 Oct 15, 2013 05:58 PM

                                            Artisanal cheeses have popped up here and there in the past (our local Kosher store had a huge selection for Pesach some time ago) but the prices and selections were undoubtedly intimidating. When you're offered a round of goat cheese the size of a twinkie at a little less than the price of a slab of Miller's American slices it tends to be a no-brainer.

                                            1. re: ferret
                                              avitrek RE: ferret Oct 15, 2013 06:45 PM

                                              I'm not sure why that would be a no brainer. They are two different cheeses used in completely different ways. I can't think of any dish that I would substitute between American cheese and goat cheese. It would be like saying when given the choice between a roast and ground beef choosing the ground beef is a no brainer. Sure I can make a dish around both, but they're different products and I would never think to use ground beef in a dish that calls for a roast.

                                              1. re: avitrek
                                                ferret RE: avitrek Oct 16, 2013 04:19 AM

                                                Again I'm generalizing but the majority of shoppers in kosher stores aren't as familiar with specialty cheeses and even if they're curious they're going to be put off by price.

                                              2. re: ferret
                                                AdinaA RE: ferret Oct 15, 2013 07:06 PM

                                                I have done a cheese board as an exciting course for Pesach lunch, but this past Pesach the selection was thin.

                                                Maybe good cheese is like foie gras, French Jews appreciate it, and are willing to pay for it, but American Jews don't, and won't.

                                                1. re: ferret
                                                  bagelman01 RE: ferret Oct 15, 2013 08:22 PM

                                                  That comparison of prices isn't much different than between a good 4ounce log of goat's cheese and non-hechscher American cheese. In our area Land O Lakes American is $6.99 lb.
                                                  My kids might eat the Miller's but wife and I would want chevre or brief or Gouda ot other interesting foods. We are not interested in whet is sold as pasteurised cheese food.....

                                                  Then again....we don't have 8 kids, yeshiva tuition and outrageous NYC housing costs.

                                          2. re: koshergourmetmart
                                            cresyd RE: koshergourmetmart Oct 15, 2013 05:07 PM

                                            For 5 years, I shopped at Basher usually once a week - and by my 100% unscientific perspective, among the local shoppers (not to speak of tourists/non-Israeli born), the majority are not observant. It may be because Basher is expensive and there's just not a tradition of spending a lot of money on cheese - I don't know. But Basher mostly attracts secular Israelis and foreigners.

                                            Regarding the rest of kosher cheese in Israel easily available in grocery stores/markets - a lot isn't very good. Locally made soft white cheeses (i.e .feta, Bulgarian, etc.) are often far far better than locally made harder cheeses (cheddar, gouda, etc). At times when I needed to save money, I'd just get a locally made soft cheese or labne rather than the incredibly mediocre other cheeses. So I'd (unscientifically) point the finger at a lack of tradition.

                                            1. re: koshergourmetmart
                                              nicoleelangoldstein RE: koshergourmetmart Oct 21, 2013 05:11 PM

                                              Bashar sells unsupervised cheese. There's been huge debate in Jerusalem amongst individual communities about whether it's ok to buy any cheese from there. I'm not putting a thumb on the scale, just want folks to know this and not go accidentally thinking the entire place has a teudat.

                                              1. re: nicoleelangoldstein
                                                cresyd RE: nicoleelangoldstein Oct 21, 2013 07:14 PM

                                                There are a number of establishments in the shuk that have unsupervised items and restaurants that do not have any certification. For tourists, you really need to check every place you visit based on your personal preferences. Azure, a long time restaurant located in the Iraqi shuk, for a start has no certification at all.

                                                1. re: nicoleelangoldstein
                                                  koshergourmetmart RE: nicoleelangoldstein Oct 21, 2013 07:28 PM

                                                  all the cheese I purchased had a kosher sticker on it from the certfying agency. the restaurant actually has a kashrut certificate

                                              2. t
                                                tractarian RE: AdinaA Oct 17, 2013 04:33 PM

                                                I have a dairy kitchen at home and make lots of dishes involving cheese. Asiago, real pecorino and parmesan cheese, mozzarella, provolone, feta, cheddar, you name it.

                                                There's definitely an upturn in availability.

                                                I enjoy The Good Life brand a lot. The Waldbaum's in Mill Basin, Pic n Pay, Foodtown in Bay Ridge, Shop Rite, and other Brooklyn stores sell it. Granted, Rabbi Dovid Katz's hashgacha may not be acceptable to all (although he seems to be a very respected Haredi rabbi in Flatbush). Their cheeses are not cheap, but quality cheese in general is not cheap. When I ate non-kosher, I'd commonly spend as much as $24 a pound on cheese from specialty shops.

                                                I exclusively use grated pecorino romano from this brand, for use on pasta and in Italian dishes. They have cheese in all varieties, and it is all kosher for Passover, with 2 exceptions (blue cheese and swiss with caraway, see http://www.foodworkscheese.com/our-ch...)

                                                The Cheese Guy, Natural and Kosher/Les Petites Fermieres, Cappiello, Meyenberg goat cheeses (KORC), Sugar River (CRC), Cultured Cow, Tillamook (available at Trader Joe's), and Israeli feta cheeses are widely available on the mainstream market.

                                                Tablet K cheeses are obviously an option for those who eat them.

                                                As far as international cheeses, their availability is often spotty in America.

                                                Olympus makes Greek cheeses under Rabbi Alan Ira Silver.

                                                Yotvata has all kinds of Italian cheeses under the OU.

                                                Real Kosher Dutch Gouda is available (

                                                1. l
                                                  LittleWave RE: AdinaA Nov 24, 2013 05:59 PM

                                                  I don't think anybody makes baked ziti with fancy cheeses for their kids - including non Jews. Fancy cheeses are sered as a separate course in a meat meal and one just takes a nibble. Jews cannot incorporate a nibble of fancy cheese into a meat meal and therefore buy less artisanal cheeses.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: LittleWave
                                                    Veggo RE: LittleWave Nov 24, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                    Phoey. My Jewish friends are prosperous and cost is of no concern. Kosher is a concern for some.
                                                    I think more Asians are averse to cheese, because culturally it is considered to be a rotten dairy product.
                                                    My Jewish friend delucacheesemonger brought me amazing cheeses from France last week. In contrast, when I lived in Dallas with 4 Chinese housemates, not one ate any type of cheese, when I had my best cheesemonger ever and I usually had 7 or more varieties on hand and I couldn't share.

                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                      LittleWave RE: Veggo Nov 24, 2013 06:43 PM

                                                      Veggo - I don't think we are in disagreement. I'm just bringing up the way artisanal cheeses are typically served.

                                                      1. re: LittleWave
                                                        Veggo RE: LittleWave Nov 24, 2013 06:58 PM

                                                        We are in complete agreement. A fancy cheese stands alone. For some, even a cracker is noise.

                                                        1. re: LittleWave
                                                          CloggieGirl RE: LittleWave Nov 25, 2013 08:24 PM

                                                          Not necessarily. I did not grow up in a kosher community and good cheese was a welcome addition to green salads, sandwiches, on baked goods, incorporated into baked goods. Also, cooking with excellent cheeses can really elevate the whole dish.

                                                        2. re: Veggo
                                                          apathetichell RE: Veggo Nov 25, 2013 09:30 AM

                                                          Veggo - this is the Kosher board - kosher is a concern for everyone on this board - otherwise we wouldn't be here. Also your attitude towards Asians/Chinese is stereotypical, as is your characterization of the rich Jew for whom "cost is no concern." If you don't care about/have no input on kashruth go find another board to talk about cheese on.

                                                          A cheese course is traditionally served with fine wine. We obliviously have issues with fine wine tastings because of the Mevushal/Non-Mevushal issues which can be difficult for group settings. In addition with potential conflicts between who is machmir on c.y. vs who eats cholov stam, there is all sorts of social and cultural blocks from the development of an appreciation of fancy cheeses in the kosher community. Obviously the larger the community (Israel, Brooklyn) the larger the group is that spends more money on cheese.

                                                          1. re: apathetichell
                                                            Veggo RE: apathetichell Nov 25, 2013 09:37 AM

                                                            I visit this board to learn. I respect your feedback. Thank you.

                                                      2. sal_acid RE: AdinaA Nov 25, 2013 09:34 AM

                                                        I'm in Tel Aviv right now and there's cheese at every breakfast buffet in lavish amount. I have seen Jews eat cheese.

                                                        Just not with meat.

                                                        A trip to the local supermarket shamed my US store with its cheese selection.

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: sal_acid
                                                          cresyd RE: sal_acid Nov 25, 2013 11:45 AM

                                                          While the cheese is definitely in abundance at the Israeli hotel breakfast buffet - it's not always of as high a quality if you compare them to various non kosher cheeses. Especially when you go beyond soft cheeses. When you get past soft cheese and into a more "fancy" cheeses - the quality can really drop. I'm not a super picky eater, and will suffer through bad products to not waste money - but I've thrown a lot of Israeli grocery store cheese in the garbage after a taste.

                                                          Perhaps Tel Aviv grocery stores are radically different than those in Jerusalem - but I'm really surprised about your comments on the cheese. Or perhaps you just haven't tasted many of those grocery store offerings. In Jerusalem, all the cheese I bought (with the exception of labne, feta, and fresh mozzarella) was from Basher (a specialty cheese store found in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem).

                                                          Israel is huge into dairy - but I think once you start looking at harder cheeses the prevalence has a steep drop off.

                                                          1. re: cresyd
                                                            c oliver RE: cresyd Nov 25, 2013 11:53 AM

                                                            We'll be in Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in January so it's nice to read this.

                                                            1. re: cresyd
                                                              almond tree RE: cresyd Nov 25, 2013 12:13 PM

                                                              And often it looks like there are a lot of different kinds of cheeses at the breakfast buffet, but when you investigate further, you'll see one is gvina levana (soft white cheese) with garlic, another gvina levana with olives, ad infinitum.

                                                              1. re: cresyd
                                                                sal_acid RE: cresyd Nov 25, 2013 10:38 PM

                                                                That's true. The hotel cheese isn't great, mostly not good even; but it is eaten.

                                                                I have to assume that the grocery store cheese is bought and probably eaten, why else would they stock it? Who knows how good it is?

                                                                1. re: sal_acid
                                                                  almond tree RE: sal_acid Nov 25, 2013 11:06 PM

                                                                  There are definitely some good cheeses in Israeli grocery stores. I like Le Préféré English cheddar.

                                                                  1. re: sal_acid
                                                                    cresyd RE: sal_acid Nov 26, 2013 05:14 AM

                                                                    Going back to the initial post - the post was not that observant Jews don't eat cheese full stop - but why high quality/artisan cheeses are not a regular presence. I think that the abundance of lesser quality cheeses found in Israel (where having a steady kosher clientele isn't an issue), is an indication that even when there is a large consumer base - it's still not in demand.

                                                                    What ends up happening, is that someone growing up with kosher cheese - their first experience of cheddar might be Israeli "cheddar". If that is what the cheese audience is used to, then it becomes more of an uphill battle to explain why the English imported cheddar is worth a try at all. The question isn't about eating no cheese, but rather the demand for good cheese.

                                                                    1. re: cresyd
                                                                      DeisCane RE: cresyd Nov 26, 2013 05:35 AM

                                                                      Yeah, but I wonder if outside of major European capitals and the coasts in the US, whether the average non-Jew (let alone non-kosher Jew) eats much artisan cheese. Maybe it's 10%? Even if it's 20%?

                                                                      So aside from historical/cultural factors, could it also just be simple math? There are 14M Jews, so maybe 3M that care about keeping kosher. So if even 20% of that group cares about good cheese, you're talking about a total global market of only 600K people!

                                                                      1. re: DeisCane
                                                                        c oliver RE: DeisCane Nov 26, 2013 07:39 AM

                                                                        There are that few Jews in the world?!/!?!? I'm completely shocked by that number. But,yes, if that's correct, then it may be an issue of "what the market can bear."

                                                                        1. re: DeisCane
                                                                          cresyd RE: DeisCane Nov 26, 2013 10:00 AM

                                                                          I use the phrase artisan cheese - but I don't think as a term it accurately presents the issue when I'm talking specifically about kosher cheeses in Israel.

                                                                          In that context the issue isn't so much about "artisan" or not, but rather that soft cheeses (i.e. feta, Bulgarian) are quite good. But once you get into semi-hard/hard cheeses, the quality drop off is significant among easily accessible cheeses. There's a very small midrange, meaning that you're left with the choices of high quality (pricey, inaccessible on a regular basis, often imported) or mediocre.

                                                                          The market I'm commenting on is the Israeli cheese market - which has a high concentration of not only kosher consumers but kosher producers. As well as a market place that supports buying kosher goods even if an individual consumer is not observant. And a certain level of quality of cheese found in Europe or the US, I believe requires some serious searching to do among strictly Israeli made cheeses.

                                                                          I don't have a good reason why cheese isn't as popular among the observant set - but from my observations living in Jerusalem for years, there's definitely a trend to tease out.

                                                                2. bagelman01 RE: AdinaA Nov 26, 2013 02:12 PM

                                                                  I know that I've responded earlier, but rereading your OP I have a further observation:

                                                                  "It's not all that long since fine wine, lamb, wine vinegar, fine parve baking chocolate, and other pricey foodie delights first became available kosher in the U.S. These, however, are now widely available."

                                                                  The huge difference between the wine, vinegar and chocholate and fine cheeses is perishability/shelf life. The storekeeper doesn't take as much of a risk of spoilage when stocking those items.

                                                                  1. h
                                                                    Hirscheys RE: AdinaA Dec 2, 2013 08:09 PM

                                                                    I don't have a good answer to your question, but I have noticed that Pomegranate has sustained their excellent selection of cheeses. A few of the artisanal cheeses that I liked (very stinky, yummy, moldy cheese) did not seem to be sufficiently popular and disappeared. But overall they seem to be selling good quality fine cheese. So hopefully this is a sign that consumers are taking note; perhaps the demand will spill over to other kosher markets.

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