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Old 07.09.2010, 21:37
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Cheese musings

Whilst enjoying a variety of Grumpys cheeses tonight i had the same thought I often have and this time I thought i'd put it to you guys - why isn't British cheese famous/well known world wide, why aren't the British regarded as a great cheese making nation?

I like Swiss cheese but the majority of it is very similar, slightly rubbery at times, same colour, texture and usually taste. So I ask, why does this nice but a bit bland cheese have notoriety around the globe and how the hell did the Swiss become world renowned cheese makers/producers?

When you visit Grumpys stall compared to the other stalls around him selling swiss cheeses you first of all notice the array of colours of the cheese, then you taste and they all have different textures and tastes, they are so diverse in comparison to many other nations' cheeses.

I suppose what i am wondering is how the hell did Swiss cheese become famous and British cheese leaves more non British people saying 'what? British cheese? good?'

For me it's the best but then maybe I am biased
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Old 07.09.2010, 21:40
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Re: Cheese musings

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...why isn't British cheese famous/well known world wide, why aren't the British regarded as a great cheese making nation?
Because not enough people have spoken to GG, and although he's a walking encyclopaedia on British Cheese and a true enthusiast, he's only one guy and he lives in the mountains in deepest darkest CH.

HTH
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Old 07.09.2010, 21:42
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Re: Cheese musings

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why isn't British cheese famous/well known world wide, why aren't the British regarded as a great cheese making nation?
Jealousy, pure and simple.

That, and the fact that our greatest export is ourselves, which makes our cheese, delicious as it is, pale into insignificance as a candle pales against the sun.

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Old 07.09.2010, 21:44
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Re: Cheese musings

Before coming to any conclusions about Swiss cheese: are you buying yours at the Swiss-cheese equivalent of Grumpy's stall, or at the Swiss equivalent of Tesco? Like with British cheese, there is a world of difference.

Having said that I will confess that one Alpkäse tastes just about like another to me, even good Alpkäse from small dairies.
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Old 07.09.2010, 21:47
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Re: Cheese musings

Good question, as there is NO way in Hades that it is because of the 'penchant' the Swiss have for marketing...

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Old 07.09.2010, 21:51
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Re: Cheese musings

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Whilst enjoying a variety of Grumpys cheeses tonight i had the same thought I often have and this time I thought i'd put it to you guys - why isn't British cheese famous/well known world wide, why aren't the British regarded as a great cheese making nation?
The human survival instinct could be the explanation.....


British are already famous for the liquid part: tea, beer, whisky..that's enough. So far pure british gastronomy suffers from a persistent stereotype (which has maybe some truth at the roots) and did not manage to poison....erhh convince the rest of the world.
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Old 07.09.2010, 21:53
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Re: Cheese musings

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Before coming to any conclusions about Swiss cheese: are you buying yours at the Swiss-cheese equivalent of Grumpy's stall, or at the Swiss equivalent of Tesco? Like with British cheese, there is a world of difference.

Having said that I will confess that one Alpkäse tastes just about like another to me, even good Alpkäse from small dairies.
We went to our favourite little kaserie shop in Engelberg on Sunday, the monastery there makes it's own cheese and has a little shop which also has a viewing cheese making area. We used to often go out of way to go and get their cheeses as it is much nicer than supermarket pre packed (and still is) so saturday we bought an array of Grumpys cheeses and on Sunday we bought an array of good quality swiss cheeses from this little shop. Whilst the swiss cheese is nice, it's not a patch on Grumpys cheese
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Old 07.09.2010, 21:53
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Re: Cheese musings

I had some French & Swiss friends over for supper recently. I thought before dessert we would have an "English cheese board" and had bought all the cheese over from the UK. They did looked slightly bemused but boy did they enjoy it!!!
I explained that stilton goes well on a digestive biscuit, we had a mean cheddar and an assortment of others and instead of having bread I bought the crackers over as well.
I am not joking when I say that they are now totally converted and were surprised that english cheeses had such variety.
So GG you should be getting some new customers........
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Old 07.09.2010, 21:53
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Re: Cheese musings

The Swiss and especially the French make a big point of marketing their cheese abroad. I think this is even a government driven thing. The british don't and unfortunately as a result the cheese simply not so well known, and as a result not particularly accepted.

I'm sure grumpy can fill us in on the details, but given some of the responses in my workplace (Swiss) people are surprised that the UK actually has a cheese industry at all.
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Old 09.09.2010, 12:43
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Re: Cheese musings

The answer to your question could fill a book I guess, but here's a shortish reply......

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Whilst enjoying a variety of Grumpys cheeses tonight i had the same thought I often have and this time I thought i'd put it to you guys - why isn't British cheese famous/well known world wide, why aren't the British regarded as a great cheese making nation?
The main reason stems from 1939 when there were over 1500 cheese makers in the UK. At the outbreak of the war the ministry of food saw these cheese makers as being quite wasteful with an important source of protein, so they banned cheese making - all the milk for cheese was then used to make powdered milk, quicker to process, easier to store and cheaper to transport. They did allow a few factory dairies to make a very mild, fast maturing plastic substance which they called the "National Cheese" and towards the end of the war these factories were allowed to produce 5 or 6 other varieties but they re-designed the original recipes to work with their existing mass production machinery. It is these cheap, mass produced post-war creations that are still offered in the UK supermarkets.

Restrictions were lifted in 1952 so that farmers could make cheese again, but after a 13 year break they had lost the skills, family members or even the farms to make them with. Also at this time supermarkets starting opening and they were not interested in relatively expensive hand made cheeses when cheap, mass produced cheeses were readily available. These supermarkets really controlled the cheese market until well into the 1970's (well, they still do control the mass market for cheese) meaning that 3 generations of British people forgot that Britain can make "proper" cheese.

Even to this day, if a visitor to the UK wanted to take some cheese home, chance are that they would visit a high street supermarket and buy what still is some of the worse cheese in the world.

Also, the Brits themselves are partly to blame. I have found that to most people back home, good food has to be exotic food. Hence, in a traditional pub in the country you are more likely to find Thai green curry rather than Rabbit pie or Lincolnshire Chine. To most Brits, Cheddar cheese is good, but it ain't special like French cheese. Innit.

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I like Swiss cheese but the majority of it is very similar, slightly rubbery at times, same colour, texture and usually taste. So I ask, why does this nice but a bit bland cheese have notoriety around the globe and how the hell did the Swiss become world renowned cheese makers/producers?
The main ingredient for cheese is grass and in the mountains they do have good quality grass in abundance. The difference in quality is quite subtle but it does make a difference to the finished product. Also the Swiss (and French of course) are very well educated about quality food (as opposed to processed supermarket fodder) and, unlike the Brits, shout from the rooftops about how good their cheese is.

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When you visit Grumpys stall compared to the other stalls around him selling swiss cheeses you first of all notice the array of colours of the cheese, then you taste and they all have different textures and tastes, they are so diverse in comparison to many other nations' cheeses.
Well, Britain does make more varieties of cheese (over 700) more than any other country, so at a cheese stall selling 50 or more of the best of these varieties you will find lots of different styles, flavours and textures, something that I think I'm quite well known for. Even my 5 cheddars in stock at the moment are very different from each other. Also, the different rinds that British cheese has, cloth and lard bound, waxed, natural bloom, wash rinded, nettle and herb rinds, all give a beautiful picture of variety.

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I suppose what i am wondering is how the hell did Swiss cheese become famous and British cheese leaves more non British people saying 'what? British cheese? good?'

For me it's the best but then maybe I am biased
You shout loud enough about how proud you are of your (admittedly high quality) product, and the message will eventually stick. Something that I'm working on right now
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Old 09.09.2010, 12:46
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Re: Cheese musings

Thanks Mike. I'm now a convert. I really believe in cheeses.
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Old 09.09.2010, 12:49
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Re: Cheese musings

Thanks Professor of British Cheese Grumpy, that was a brilliant explanation, have 5 greeny points

It's sad to think how the war messed up our cheese industry, it obviously didn't affect the french.
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Old 09.09.2010, 12:53
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Re: Cheese musings

I definitely have a new appreciation for cheese in general, and blues especially. Never in a million years would I have thought I wanted to know so much about cheese (and British cheeses at that).

It is quite an indulgence now (for which grumpy is totally to blame). loving every minute of it.
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Old 09.09.2010, 13:19
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Re: Cheese musings

Huh, aside from the fact that I am only a recent blue convert, I have to say I at least know cheese is important to the British. This could, of course, have to do with certain cultural influences to which I have been exposed...








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Old 09.09.2010, 13:38
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Re: Cheese musings

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British are already famous for the liquid part: tea, beer, whisky..that's enough. So far pure british gastronomy suffers from a persistent stereotype (which has maybe some truth at the roots) and did not manage to poison....erhh convince the rest of the world.
Most of the world is aware that Ceylon tea is not from Britain. I'd say that most Germans would reply to "name a British beer" either "Guinness" or "?". For me, Britain never was about anything food related, but funny enough are the various German cuisines equally shunned by Brits... (while in fact not too different from many British classics). I guess most of the ignorance is quite literally ignorance: People do not know - While millions of British and Germans travel to Spain, Greece or Italy, few visit other places than London or Munich... and so we think that all there is in Britain is the curries and chinese food I got in London (they do not seem to have too much to be proud of themselves...) and you guys think that Germans drink bad lager from huge tankards and eat pork knuckles.

As annoying as I personally find him do I believe that Jamie Oliver actually managed to change the view on British food habits abroad.
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Old 09.09.2010, 13:44
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Re: Cheese musings

I prefer Dutch cheese myself...

I tried a few swiss cheeses from the supermarket but this can get pretty expensive. More often than not I've thrown away 10chf of cheese after only 1 nibble. So now I stick to what I know. Same with english cheeses, never tried one and cannot afford to...
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Old 09.09.2010, 13:45
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Re: Cheese musings

Please tell me there is more to dutch cheese then rubbery processed edam?
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Old 09.09.2010, 13:46
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Re: Cheese musings

In this same vein: I was at the hairdresser's yesterday afternoon and she asked me how the holidays were, etc. etc.
I told her we'd gone to Scotland for 2 weeks, and she sort of looked at me as if I'd said we'd spent our hols on Mars

The conversation then turned to food, as in "what do they eat in Scotland?" I started listing: beautiful fresh fish, seafood, oysters, lamb, beef, cheese (we actually visited the cheesery on Mull and schlepped about 3 kgs of their cheddar home). You could have knocked her over with a feather.
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Old 09.09.2010, 13:46
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Re: Cheese musings

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Most of the world is aware that Ceylon tea is not from Britain. I'd say that most Germans would reply to "name a British beer" either "Guinness" or "?". For me, Britain never was about anything food related, but funny enough are the various German cuisines equally shunned by Brits... (while in fact not too different from many British classics). I guess most of the ignorance is quite literally ignorance: People do not know - While millions of British and Germans travel to Spain, Greece or Italy, few visit other places than London or Munich... and so we think that all there is in Britain is the curries and chinese food I got in London (they do not seem to have too much to be proud of themselves...) and you guys think that Germans drink bad lager from huge tankards and eat pork knuckles.

As annoying as I personally find him do I believe that Jamie Oliver actually managed to change the view on British food habits abroad.
I do find myself explaining British beer to Germans and German beer to Brits. Shocking really.

As for German cuisine, don't kid yourself, it's no better than the British fare.
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Old 09.09.2010, 13:47
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Re: Cheese musings

The Montgomery family started making Cheddar 70 years ago.

Lynher Dairies, who produce Yarg, only acquired the recipe in 1984.

Ticklemore, who make Beenleigh Blue, started in the 1970s.

Perl Las is, I think, even younger.

So, as Grumpy indicated, there simply hasn't been much time for news of the British cheese renaissance to spread and for a reputation to be built.
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