Cheese: Anecdotes, History and Politics
– Emerging from cheese legend, it was thought that Alpine cow-men were taxed based on the number of pails of milk their herds produced; so it paid for them to do a first milking when the landlord was around and a second milking after dark. No comments about certain Presidential candidates avoiding taxes too!
– Parmesan has been famous since at least the 1300’s and possibly longer. Pope Julius II had made a present of a hundred Parmesan cheeses to King Henry VIII. What a great gift!
Mimolette (far top) and Grey Owl (above) cheese in the Financial District, Toronto
– AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) started in 1411 when Roquefort cheese was regulated by parliamentary decree. France did not like the amount of imitations popping up!
– About 9000 years ago goats were domesticated in what is now known to be northern Iran and sheep somewhere around the Middle East. Cows followed later. Milk was difficult to store and travel with. So the discovery of cheese making may have kicked off dairy farming!
– We don’t like cheese mites here so Mimolette is dipped into black wax before it is exported to Canada. The cheese mites (a microorganism, which lives everywhere) like to eat away at the rind of the cheese while it ages. Dipping the cheese in wax (Mimolette, gouda) or rubbing it in olive oil (Parmesan) stops the mites from enjoying the cheese. Too bad, they do impart flavour into the cheese!
– It is believed that Valençay got it’s shape from Napoleon. After returning to France from a failed mission to Egypt, Napoleon was so outraged when he saw the local, pyramid shaped cheese that he sliced the top off with his sword.
About the photos:
I spent a day with Troy, who works special events for us, taking fun pictures of cheese around the city. Needless to say, we were given many strange looks as we set up these great pictures of our cheeses in Toronto’s Financial District.
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