Here’s a little post that isn’t related to anything at all that’s happening in the world and I totally did not come up with this at some random point in time, when I just so happened to be thinking about this dairy-based food. Cheese is sort of food that often gets forgotten about, but it is one of the most varied types of food in existence, with over one type of cheese for every day of the year in France! Anyways, here it is, a random article about the history of cheese! Let’s do this!
First off, the origins. Cheese has some very fuzzy background, with cheese making artifacts dating back to around 5000 BC, but these have been found in Central Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia, so there is little clarity as to who invented cheese. It is thought that cheese was already quite a commodity, and was already in full swing once the Romans came and took over a lot of countries, as there is a book titled, “Natural History”, by Pliny the Elder, of which there is a section of the book dedicated to describing the many varieties of cheese enjoyed by the Romans, including the properties of cheese within the Empire. The Romans invented a sort of “cheese press” to make the production of cheese easier, and many a market had cheeses to offer. Initially, good cheese was a luxury, and only the rich could possibly afford it, and as with all things, when it got easier to make, it became cheaper so everyone could afford some cheese. With the fall of the Roman Empire, long distance trade practically disappeared, and only a traveler would get to see all the varieties of cheese across the land, including some highly unusual (at the time) cheeses which had an edible rind, of which were rather rare if you did not travel, as cheese would spoil. It was only due to the fall of the Romans that catalyzed the innovations in cheese making, but these regions made rather specialized cheeses for the specific places the cheese is produced, like a genuine wheel of Roquefort, which is aged in a cave in the Roquefort (mind blown) region of France, and it has been traditionally made that way for hundreds of years. This divergence in the cheese making process allowed the production of cheese to become profitable after the Middle Ages, and a lot of cheeses became known for their respective regions like the aforementioned Roquefort. In and around the 13th century, farmers decided to pool their resources and make cooperatives in the art of making cheese and other dairy products, and eventually made some more well-known cheeses such as Parmesan or Cheddar.
In this day and age, cheese is mainly mass produced, and the traditional methods of making cheese are largely underused, but artisans still create traditionally made cheeses in European markets, and although they are expensive, they still taste quite wonderful. Mass produced cheese tends to sell better than traditionally made cheeses, but of course there are quite a few exceptions. Using traditional methods and machinery to help make larger quantities, fine cheese can still be found pretty much anywhere, in Asia, Europe or even North America! Generally, the best hard cheeses come in wheels. Those cheddar bricks are just not as good as paying a little extra for some imported cheese or just something in a wheel, as it provides the most even flavour. Soft cheeses like Camembert also come in different shapes and sizes, like those little plastic wrapped packages and those are perfectly fine, you can choose anything you want fresh cheese like Feta or Ricotta usually comes in a little tub.
So there you have it, an extremely simplified verrsion of the history of cheese! Next time you want something to go with a cracker, remember to make a Gouda choice!