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The Language of Cheese

Although manufacturers may complain that names like 'parmesan' and 'champagne' ought to designate a generic product of the right ilk by now, I'm still rather charmed by the idea that local names can designate a local product. I don't mind that Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate must be referred to as a being a milk-chocolate-like product. And I certainly don't mind that the EU has just ruled against non-Parma area parmesan makers, saying that it is not "real" parmesan cheese.

In the same vein, I'm often struck by how few cheeses the US bothers with. Cheese is something richly varying and extremely local, at least in Italy, England, and France. There's an astounding lack of variation and creativity in mass market American (or Canadian) cheeses. I'm not saying there aren't good cheese out there... but there's certainly no real tradition of distributing them.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
haggisthesecond
Jun. 26th, 2002 09:39 am (UTC)
saying cheese
The EU allows Cadbury's Milk Chocolate to be labelled "Family Milk Chocolate" here in the UK. Sounds so much better than "milk-chocolate-like", doesn't it? :)

as for cheese, I love the stuff! since living in Europe I've been spoiled by the variety and quality available, so when I go back to Canada I'm pretty disappointed with what passes for selection in the supermarkets. That said, there are some good delis and some places in Kensington Market and the St Lawrence Market in Toronto that are serious specialty cheese shops.
owlfish
Jun. 26th, 2002 07:54 pm (UTC)
Re: saying cheese
That was it! I knew it was something more elegant than the phrase "milk-choocolate-like"! I'd forgotten how innocuous the new name for it is. And no, Cadbury's isn't equivalently labelled in Canada - at least, not as far as I remember. Maybe I'm wrong.

I've heard good things about the St. Lawrence markets cheeses but have only patronized the Kensington Market ones... which happily sell halvah as well. The one I've been going to makes lousy pesto - but then again, they're meant to be a cheese shop, and they do do that well.
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owlfish
Jun. 26th, 2002 07:58 pm (UTC)
Hello! Good to run into you again.

Was it a good restaurant? Worth going back to? I'm sure I'll be back in Montreal at some point and it's always worth knowing about good places to eat!

It's easy to say people in the US have no taste for good food, but I'm not sure it's true. I mostly think that lack of exposure = lack of knowledge about food options = lack of demand for it. There are bright sides, and lots of people involved in the ongoing task of trying to change that. For example, friends of my family are involved in the US's first "real" prosciutto-making native operation. And not all good food is a foreign import either, especially when it comes to really tasty things to do with meat. One of the things I regularly miss most when not living in the US (unfortunately, New England doesn't count, it's no good for this either) is real barbecue. Mmm... barbecue ribs.
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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )