A Harte Appetite: Blue Cheese Can Take Some Getting Used To
"Well, I never felt more like singing the blues," sang Guy Mitchell in the late 1950's. Though Mitchell's song was plaintive, when it comes to cheese, the blues can be positively joyous!
However, blue cheese can take some getting used to.
As David Frost asks, "Why is it that Swiss cheese has the holes when it's Gorgonzola that needs the ventilation?" After all, you wouldn't think that a food which is by definition "moldy" could be so delectable. Usually, when a food turns blue, it’s time to throw it out. But blue cheese is a different matter.
You wouldn't think that a food, which is by definition "moldy," could be so delectable.
It's my favorite choice as an appetizer, in a salad, on top of a burger, or paired with a good port for dessert. And trust me, blue cheese raises apple pie to majestic heights. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Clifton Fadiman was thinking about the blue genre when he defined cheese as "milk's leap toward immortality."
Blue cheese gets its distinctive flavor by being treated with molds that facilitate the development of its characteristic blue, really, blue-green, veins. For example, France's famed Roquefort cheese is produced by actually stirring into the curd: moldy rye bread crumbs.
There are many varieties of blue cheese. There's even a blue version of England's classic Cheshire cheese. But the most well known are Danish Blue, Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Cabrales, all imports. Vying with these and on a par with them is Maytag blue, made not that far away at the Maytag Dairy Farms in Newton, Iowa (the same town where they make the washing machines).
Try any of these "Blues Brothers" of cheese to see why the late cookbook author and gastronome, James Beard called cheese of any kind "probably the friendliest of foods."