One of the downfalls of living in India is the lack of a good hunk of cheese. Being a native Wisconsinite, this is particularily upsetting to me. Growing up in Wisconsin, we had a cheese for every occasion. Cheese platters, cheese logs, cheese sticks. Cheese was available in countless varieties at every store and shop. Oh, yes, I bristled at the term “cheesehead” when it was slung around by residents of that silly state to the south, but, as they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.” How true, how true, because In India, I have found exactly 3 cheese choices. They are as follows:
1. “Cheese” in a box: A white, slightly slimy, soft cheese, possibly a cousin of Velveta. I’m not sure what it is supposed to be, but it tastes nothing like any cheese I have had before. When I try to shred it for omelettes or tacos, its clumps up into a big, gooey wad of cheesy tentacles, not unlike a dead Man-o-war on a Florida beach. It sticks to the cheese grater and flops down onto the omelette in a sorry clump, resisting any attempts to be spread around. Sprinkling a casserole with this cheese is out of the question. If I took it and wadded it up in my hand, we’d be right back to the original cheese chunk shape, just like silly putty. We buy it and use it because its our only choice, but that doesn’t mean that I like it.
2. Cheese in plastic: Cheese slices, made of the same gooey cheese. They look like white Kraft slices, but the resemblence ends there. They are ok for making grilled cheese, I suppose, but then they tend to stick to my teeth and the roof of my mouth making me gag. Certainly not what I look for in a cheese.
3. Cheese in a box #2: “Pizza Cheese”. Presumably pizza cheese would be Mozzerella, right? WRONG! This is something else, masquerading as mozzerella. It seems to be the white gooey cheese’s big brother. All grown up and somewhat firmer, but not much tastier and certainly nothing like the real mozzerella that we’ve come to know and love. What I wouldn’t do for a REAL mozzerella stick right about now! You know, where you take a bite and the cheese stretches out of your mouth like a great big piece of taffy. “Pizza Cheese” will NOT supply that delightful experience.
So, as you might imagine, it was with great excitement that I came upon a 4th kind of cheese at the store the other day. Now, I was a bit concerned, as the cheese container was very non-traditional, but I’m a good sport, and I figured that I’d give it a shot, just in case it contained something a little more palatable.
CHEESE IN A CAN!
Now, the words “processed cheddar” gave me the idea that it would probably be similar to gooey cheese-in-a-box, but I’d never know until I tried.
Opening the can was easy:
I’m not sure why, but I was immediately reminded of dog food. It took a bit of thought, but I finally extracted the cheese from its metal confines by opening the other side of the can and pushing it out from the bottom. It slid out of the can like the can 0′ cranberry sauce that you crack open at Thanksgiving. However, to my surprise, it was NOT wobbly, or slimy in any way. In fact, it was rather firm. AT least, firmer than any other cheese that I have found here.
The taste test came next. While I can’t say that it tastes just like cheddar, again, it is much better than anything else that I’ve found. I definitely prefer it to ole white and slimy.
Tonight, I tried the grating test and found, much to my excitiement, that it actually grates quite well! It comes off the grater like the little curlicues of wood from a band saw, and doesn’t stick together once grated. I could take it and sprinkle it over omelettes and pizza without incident! YES!
So, in the strangest of places, I have found something wonderful. (Ok, that’s exaggerating a bit, I know – I’m prone to exaggeration). It just goes to show you, never judge a book by its cover. (Or a cheese by its can!)