American Cheese Month at the Cheese Shop

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In the United States, we take pride in many beloved traditions that originated in other countries. Pizza came from Italy. Fancy cars come from Germany, where the highway was invented. Even democracy, and its ideals that we hold so dearly, originated in Athens and is fundamentally rooted in Ancient Grecian philosophies. Nowadays, we call many of these things American. We have Chicago-style pizza, Ford trucks, and American democracy. All of these things are now regarded as quintessentially American and are evidence of our tendency, as a country, to adopt something great, make it better, and rename it as our own. So, this begs the question: how did we drop the ball on cheese?

 

When you picture American cheese, what do you see? If you’re like most of us, you’re probably picturing a generic yellow cheddar, thinly-sliced and ensconced in a greasy film of plastic. When you peel off the packaging, this American cheese reveals itself as a floppy, relatively unappealing, gelatinous square. This is not a good cheese.

 

We’ve been saddled with this unfortunate cheese for many years, and, sadly, our name is more or less stuck to it. But, there’s still hope. In typical American fashion, we’ve said “that’s great, but we can do it better.” Over the last 100 years, American cheesemakers have been working hard to make their mark on the cheese industry. This month, we’re going to celebrate these American cheese pioneers, delve into their craft, and discuss our favorite American cheeses (and no, we won’t be talking about the plastic-wrapped singles).

 

First up is one of my favorite cheeseries, central Wisconsin’s Carr Valley Cheese Company. Carr Valley has been in operation for over 100 years and has won countless awards for their unique and high-quality Wisconsin cheeses. I love this company because they’re quintessentially American. They take an old-world concept, traditional cheesemaking, and add a new-world component.

 

The Carr Valley cheese I’d like to highlight is the Glacier Wildfire Blue. Many people steer clear of blue cheeses, but this one is mild, mellow, and highly approachable without being boring. The pepperonci pepper adds just the right amount of heat, but it doesn’t overpower the cheese. This is a great blue to add to a burger, as it reaches its ultimate creaminess right at its melting point. This is a fantastic American cheese to try this month, and I personally loving pairing it with Urban Artifact’s Finn! At $12.99 a pound, this one isn’t too pricey and delivers great quality, even if you get just a small slice!

 

Jacob H.

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