Did you know it’s National Cheese Month? I’m not making this up, and it’s pretty clear that October is the best month of the whole year because sweaters, boots, hot drinks, noodle soups, and now CHEESE (glorious cheese). In the event you weren’t pro-Cheese before this list (I’ll need to see a doctor’s note if that’s the case), you will be now… at least I hope. Cheese = Life.
This is also National Pizza month. In celebration of the intersection of all the best months ever, I present to you the 15 WTF Cheese Facts your soul has been aching for.
1. Cheese wheels were created so they could be rolled to their final destination.
Sure, your belly is the final destination, but imagine being an old school cheese maker — you’d need to find a relatively easy way to get your curds from point A to point B without enlisting the help of several ancient Goliath-like dudes. Cheese wheels were born out of human practicality.
2. Not all mozz cheeses melt the same way.
“Using whole milk mozzarella is better than fresh milk mozzarella because it stands up to the high heat temperatures when cooking it,” shares Chef Michael White, Chef/Owner of the Altamarea Group which includes Ai Fiori at Langham Place, New York.
3. Italy’s volcanic regions make happy animals. Happy animals make tasty cheeses.
“Cheese is produced in every region of Italy, with that said there are many areas that are mountainous, herbaceous, and have volcanos; therefore what the animals that produce the cheese eat impacts the taste. The history that has been passed on as well makes up the melting pot of different ways to make cheese.” Are you talking dirty to us, Chef Michael?
4. You should never, ever add cheese to your pasta dish while it’s still cooking. Don’t be a heathen.
“The number one thing to do when adding cheese to pasta is adding it off the flame. If cheese is boiled, it is likely that it will become grainy due to the proteins that make up cheese.”
5. The French specialize in making smaller batches of cheese which are more popular with consumers.
“The French were smart to make small format cheeses to be sellable to consumers. Italians have always made large format cheese that in my opinion taste better and last longer. Since they are made in large quantities, it can’t be consumed as fast, so they have to be cut into smaller pieces. ” Essentially, your Brie isn’t necessarily better than your Parm, it’s just easier to shelve and store at your local supermarket.
6. Lots of cheeses are illegal in the USA.
You don’t want to go to jail for smuggling in the raw milk stuff, do you? Even REAL Brie cheese is off limits for Americans on their native soil — the stuff you’re buying at your local cheese counter is similar, but not authentic.
7. A lot of cheeses are made with animal guts — not just milk.
If you think you’re being “vegetarian” by eating cheese just about anywhere but not meat, think again — because most commercially produced (and even a lot of small batch) cheeses are actually curdled with something called “rennet.” Rennet is made from the stomachs of certain mammals, usually cows, and help give many cheese their distinctive textures and flavors.
8. Fear not, there ARE vegetarian cheese alternatives though.
“Rennet is one option for coagulating milk,” shares Mary Keehn, Cypress Grove Founder. “Other things that play a part are the cultures you use — and rennet could be replaced with thistle, which has been used historically. Microbial “rennets” are often preferred by people who are vegetarians. You can also coagulate cheese by heating it and adding an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, which cause the curds to separate from the whey.” Phew.
9. Goat cheese may be easier to digest than the cheese made from cow’s milk.
“The fat in goat cheese is a smaller particle than in cow milk cheese, and it does not separate naturally from the milk, so you don’t see the creamline that you do in cow milk. This smaller fat particle is easier to digest,” shares Mary. “The protein is also in a shorter chain — most species can tolerate goat milk because its chemical structure makes it easier to digest.” So basically eating goat cheese is doing your body a favor, right?
10. Lots of different cheeses are good on pizza. Not just the Italian ones.
Goat cheese, French cheeses, sheep’s milk cheeses… you name it. All combinations of carbs and cheese are heavenly. That’s science.
11. Cheese is ancient. Seriously.
There’s evidence of cheese making in the area that’s now Poland from about 7,500 years ago. Also, nobody ever think of making another Polish joke — these people brought us cheese and vodka and we should all be grateful.
12. There was a point in history where Wisconsin restaurants were legally required to serve cheese.
Amen for that local economy, #amirite? Seriously — this is a real fact.
13. America is already great, because we produce more cheese than any other nation.
Can someone get political with cheese already? That’s a campaign we can get behind, because America is literally the biggest and baddest when it comes to cheese production. Yeaaaahhh, boiii.
14. Some states pour cheese on icy roads… for “safety”
What a waste, if you ask us. There is no macaroni on those roads.
15. In Sardinia, there’s a cheese with maggots.
Hi, totally not kidding — there’s a cheese hailing from Sardinia that actually has maggots in it. It’s called Casu Marzu and is basically a maggot-infested version of Percorino. Seriously.
Now you’ve got the intellectual ammo you need to get your National Cheese Month (and Pizza) celebration under way. Just remember to consume responsibly (that means top everything in your life with the good stuff), okay?
See Also: 15 WTF Things You Never Knew About Vodka