The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #172196   Message #4167095
Posted By: Steve Shaw
07-Mar-23 - 10:14 AM
Thread Name: BS: What's in a (cheesy) name?
Subject: RE: BS: What's in a (cheesy) name?
The American spellings thing isn't clear-cut. Some "American" spellings were used this end before the "English English" spellings took over!

"Swiss cheese" isn't one variety of cheese. The generic use of that term seems unobjectionable to me. What I'm objecting to is the usurping of highly localised, "artisanal" cheeses that take pride in their names and which have fought successfully for their names to be protected. Which they are - but not in America.

I looked up protected UK names just now. Among them are Scotch Whisky, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Stilton cheese, Jersey Royal potatoes, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Scotch beef, Cornish pasties and Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese. Stilton is an interesting one. One specification is that it must be made with pasteurised milk. A fellow called Joe Schneider wanted to make a Stilton using raw milk but the rules wouldn't allow him. He made the cheese anyway with raw milk and called it Stichelton, which is a 12th century name for the village of Stilton. It's made on the farm where the cows are milked. It is a Stilton cheese in all but name, but it's ten times better. It doesn't travel well and it's hard to find, but in my opinion it's one of the finest of all British blue cheeses. They sometimes sell it at Gloucester and Tebay Services. Only buy it if it looks fresh ands isn't darkening too much at the edges.

Coastal cheddar is made at Ford Farm in Dorset, a couple of hours' drive from me (maybe we were thinking of Davidstow creamery, which is only a few miles down the road). Ford Farm also make what I think is one of our finest cheddars, and our favourite, Wookey Hole Cave-aged, a West Country farmhouse cheddar.

Davidstow cheeses are the antithesis of what I'm eulogising about. The factory is huge, ugly and prominent on the skyline. They take milk from over 300 farms and their articulated milk tankers routinely clog up the lanes in Devon and Cornwall. They've recently been fined over a million pounds for causing gross pollution of local waterways and local residents are made sick by the smell coming from from the factory. Their main brand here is Cathedral City cheddar (most supermarket cheese shelves are heaving with its several varieties), and they also push "premium" brands such as Cornish Cruncher. Their extra mature cheddar doesn't taste too bad, I admit, but it isn't in the same league as the cheddars from Ford Farm. If I wanted a cheaper, honest-to-goodness cheddar I'd buy Barber's from Morrisons or Sainsbury's, preferably the ones that say West Country Farmhouse on the label.

I strongly disagree with the "cheese-is-just-cheese, wine-is-just-wine-blah-blah" attitude. Small producers producing their ware with love, care and attention have led the way down the centuries and that's something to celebrate. There's a McDonalds in every country I go to and that "Drink Coca-Cola" sign is in every town and village wherever you go. Good luck to 'em, but never decry the small things in life, or worse, steal their names.