Posted by: travelrat | April 18, 2021

Cheese

Charles de Gaulle once reputedly asked how you can govern a country which produces 264 varieties of cheese? I have long suspected that France produces much more than that, and it was just a figure Mon Général just pulled out of the air. Then, a friend suggested he was not speaking of France but … Britain.

I’m not sure about that. Certainly, there’s a wide variety, but 264? Well, just to name some of my favourites, there’s Lancashire, Wensleydale, Red Leicester, Caerphilly, Double Gloucester … and Cheddar!

Of course, you have, no doubt, come across cheddar that wasn’t made anywhere near the eponymous Somerset village. I’ve come across Irish cheddar … even Canadian cheddar. And, in an Australian supermarket, I once came upon a packet of plastic-wrapped plastic purporting to be cheddar. The ‘genuine article’ … with a capital C … should, traditionally, be made within a 30 mile radius of Wells Cathedral, and matured in one of the many natural limestone caves in the region.

Some time ago, I visited the stall of a Cheddar cheese-maker at the Bath and West Show. After sampling their wares, I was asked to sign a petition, to make Cheddar a Protected Designator of Origin (PDO). I signed, and then was asked ‘Would you like to try some of our Stilton?’

Now, that is a PDO, and can only be applied to cheese produced in six factories in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. And, it’s a jealously-guarded PDO, too. I did an article about the area, and was only allowed into the factory to take some photographs in the company of a manager, on the strict condition that I didn’t name the factory, and didn’t include anything that might identify it in my pictures. So, really, all I got were photographs of cheese, just sitting there and being cheese.

Incidentally, no Stilton was ever made in Stilton! That’s the name of a Cambridgeshire village on the Great North Road, where the cheese would be taken in the coaching days, to be picked up by coach, and speedily conveyed to London.


Responses

  1. I’ve often wondered about Stilton which is still my favourite cheese, but there are many inferior types of this cheese. I’ve recently discovered a new English hard cheese in Waitrose, Lincolnshire Poacher, which is delicious, shart and nutty.

    • My latest ‘discovery’ is a Cornish one called Davidstow. I only bought it because I once had business on the abandoned airfield on Davidstow Moor … where the weather is so consistently bad, the RAF did the trials there of Ground Contolled Approach (GCA) radar in WWII. But, the cheese was delicious!

      • I’ve tried Davidstow and liked it, too. A good, strong, no-nonsense cheese. But I miss the smell i used to get from the big wheel of cheddar in the grocer’s shop when they used to cut off the amount you wanted, crumbly and gorgeous!


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