The subject for this column is about everybody’s favorite topic: food. (Warning: reading this will make you hungry).
Wisconsin is well known for its dairy products. This entire column will be devoted to cheese. (I will write about other foods later). Wisconsin has more skilled and licensed cheese makers than any other state, and produces more than 35 percent of all cheese made in the United States. Much of it is made in small, family-owned and operated cheese factories.
European immigrants brought over old-world cheese making to Wisconsin, such as Swiss cheese from Switzerland, Mozzarella and Provolone from Italy, and Limburger and Muenster from Germany, to name just a few examples. But, there are over 600 varieties, types, and styles of Wisconsin cheeses. They are also made in many forms: wheels, loaves, bricks, shredded, crocks, and spreads. When I was first grocery shopping, the amount and variety of cheese available for purchase amazed me because an entire grocery aisle was filled, on both sides, with cheeses. I would buy the most familiar at first, and then started experimenting, according to the recommendations of other people, in-laws, co-workers, and friends. Categories of cheese here are: blue, hard, pasta filata, processed, semi-hard, semi-soft, soft & fresh (cottage cheese, cream cheese,) and soft-ripened (Brie and Camembert).
My favorite soon grew to be cheese curds. These are small bite-sized twisted chunks of cheese solids, in their natural shape, which have been separated from the natural whey present in milk, but not yet pressed into blocks and aged to make cheese. The curds can be eaten straight and are a delicious snack or appetizer. They taste mild and slightly rubbery and squeak when eaten! They can also be fried, or sprinkled on top of foods. Usually they are made from cheddar or mozzarella.
Here are just a few other examples of different kinds of cheese found over here: Brick German Cheese Loaf, Brie Cabrie Montchevre, Goat Milk Cheese, Bellavitano Cheese with Raspberry, Farmer’s Cheese, Gorgonzola, Havarti, Butterkase, Crescenza Stracchino, Heide, Gouda, Havarti, and Gruyere. It is impossible to list every name here. It might also be impossible to sample each kind of cheese in one’s lifetime!
The next column will be about the Amish people.