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The Horrors of Cheese

Topics: Lifestyle & Culture | Add A CommentBy admin | December 11, 2011

What’s in a name? Well, a LOT, when the name is something like “Stinking Bishop” Never mind your milk, these cheese facts will make your BLOOD curdle.

As much as I love cheese, I’ve always figured the first person that ate it must have been in the same frame of mind as the first guy that ate lobster. You know, the old joke about how hungry he must have been to be walking down a beach, see a lobster, and think to himself “Mmmm! That looks yummy!” There’s something similar going on with the cheese story. Sure, we all derived our first nourishment and comfort from the milk of our mothers’ bosoms, but let’s face it. Once you’ve moved on from all that, it’s kind of a weird stretch to look at a cow’s dangling doohickeys and decide to give it a go. And the weirder part is that having done so, someone then had to leave the results of their efforts laying around long enough to curdle, look at it and smell it, and say to themselves “Mmmmm. This will be DELISH”. A rather disturbing series of choices, if you ask me. I mean, while it’s not THAT hard to rationalize the whole milking of mammals thing, even the pastoral tribes of East Africa, who subsist only on the milk and blood of their herds (yup, you read that right, the BLOOD),  wouldn’t THINK of eating cheese. And apparently never have; they don’t even have a word for the stuff. Similarly, it’s only in certain parts of Asia that people eat cheese. The distaste for cheese amongst Asian people can in fact be fairly intense; for instance, if you want to make your Japanese guests make a subtle “vurp” face, bring out the cheese platter. I learned this years ago when I lived in San Francisco. I often took the bus up Columbus Avenue with a Japanese friend I worked with. One day, I made the observation that as the bus progressed through Chinatown and more Asian passengers boarded, it smelled more and more like seafood with each passing block. He asked if it bothered me. “No”, I said, “I actually kind of like it”. He replied that he wished he could say the same about the bus leaving Chinatown, clarifying his thought by saying “because you know what it smells like when the bus fills up with white people? CHEESE”. So cheese, it seems, is sort of a defining aspect of western culture. And “culture” is the keyword here; it takes a lot of bacteria and hard work to create the plethora of moldy, discolored, and lumpy biological phenomena around the globe collectively known as “cheese”. We’ve rounded up a few of the more amusing and disturbing examples of the world’s dairy experiments below.



Swiss Cheese is really neither.

America’s idea of cheese is a little confusing. The two most popular American cheeses are probably American and Swiss. Which is interesting, because the former isn’t cheese, and the latter isn’t Swiss, and probably isn’t really cheese, either. Also popular for many years was Government Cheese, but its popularity was probably due in large part to its exceptionally low price. Otherwise, American cheeses seem to be mostly tributes to actual cheeses – like mozzarella – or something that you can squirt on a cracker.

United Kingdom

You know the old joke about how all Scottish food is based on a dare? Let’s not sell the English short here. Never mind all the stuff they do in the UK with blood and organ meat, the horrors they perpetrate with mere milk will suffice to clarify why it’s often asserted that “British Cuisine” is an oxymoron.

Stinking Bishop

England – Stinking Bishop
We didn’t make this up. You can even buy some on Amazon if you like.

If you wake up in the morning to find your Pantysgawn, blame the Stinking Bishop. He probably pulled the old Sussex Slipcote trick on you. Look. I possess the maturity of the average fourth grader, so when I hear the name “Stinking Bishop”, all I can think of is filthy-minded old clerics in long robes and fromunda , an exotic cheese familiar only to grade school American boys. But don’t let that stop you from buying some on Amazon.

Scotland – Caboc
The original holiday cheese ball.
Except it’s a log.

When dishes like Haggis, Crappit Heid , and black pudding are mainstays of your cuisine, oatmeal-coated cheese logs are a natch. I’ve always thought of those disgusting cheese balls you find on American holiday tables as a Yankee innovation. I was surprised to discover they had such a legacy.


CambozolaGermany – Cambozola
This Camembert would be great if it just had more mold in it.
Long before Americans discovered more “aromatic” cheeses, Limburger was the go-to cheese for humor. We’ve put that all behind us of course; I just wanted to mention Cambozola, since it is such an excellent example of Germanicizing things. I’m convinced that the motive for taking two perfectly fine but in-congruent cheeses and mashing them together was merely to be able to create the portmanteau “Cambozola”.

France – Morbier
That may look like a crack, butt it isn’t. This cheese totally tastes like ash though.

I have a friend who has a tendency to speak with really sibilant “s” sounds that almost sound like “sh”. He’s especially fond of serving the rather pungent and aromatic cheese Morbier and asking guests if they think it smells like ash.

Iceland – Skyr
It’s weird that they use fruit in the product shots, considering how it’s made.

Really, Iceland? Skyr is a cheese that defies common sense. And in a really yucky way. The original logic was “I have a bunch of barrels of meat that I don’t want to rot this winter, so I think I’ll just pour cream on top of it“. Later, the same guy got really hungry.Voila! Skyr, one of the more popular dairy products in Iceland was born.

Italy – Casu Marzu
This is your cheese.
This is your cheese on larvae.

Okay, we take back all the mean stuff we said about the Brits and the Icelanders. I’m not sure there’s anything that can hold a candle to Casu Marzu, the ancient Sardinian cheese. We say “ancient” partly because it’s been made by Sardinians for thousands of years, and partly because, well, it’s REALLY OLD. I mean, old like ROTTEN. It even has BUGS IN IT. Sure, Wikipedia tries to “church it up” by saying it has “insect larvae” in it, but the fact is, they’re MAGGOTS. And not just any maggots, these are CHEESE FLY maggots.

Honorable Mention

Egypt – Roomy Cheese
The Italian name of this cheese means “Cheese on horseback”, which makes about as much sense as “roomy cheese”.

Greece – Xynomizithra
This cheese holds the distinction of being the only cheese in the world that might be confused with a Japanese monster movie monster.