What Is American Cheese

What Is American Cheese

I’m sure there has been a debate about good and bad food in America since the founding of the country. Each emigrant has not only personal gastronomic preferences, but also his own gastronomic habits, which he brought with him along with his native language from the country of “exodus”. It is not surprising that someone in America lacks unsalted cottage cheese, someone somehow thinks local milk is not so (my friend, who came to Tulsa from Minsk, says so: “I can’t drink American milk. !”), someone never ceases to amaze the amount of sugar that is put here even in ham.

Of course, sooner or later everyone solves these problems. Some find shops with products that are more or less similar to their usual ones, others, on the contrary, adapt to the taste of the locals, and those who are especially devoted to the culinary traditions of their abandoned homeland become regular customers of “home” stores. In our, ex-Soviet, case.

Lifehack: All cheese-lovers will be happy to get a cute charcuterie serving board from Royal Craft Wood!

But at the very beginning – the first months and sometimes even years after arrival – the vast majority of us go to nearby American hypermarkets, trial and error testing new tastes of a new life And he is often surprised when, buying, apparently, an absolutely international product such as bread-butter-sausage, he gets a completely different taste to which he is used to since childhood, and what he subconsciously expects.

Judging by the comments that Russian-speaking Americans leave on social networks, and from my own experience, one of such gastronomic surprises for us at the first meeting is cheese.  

Why American Mozzarella Can Play Ping-Pong Of course, I understood that this could not be. I know, and good people do not get tired of reminding – in the States there is everything!

But still: the first thing that came to my mind when I found myself at the cheese shelves in an ordinary “democratic” American supermarket was the question “Do they also have cheese “under sanctions” here?”    

Too much all these multi-colored cuts outwardly (and then also in taste) resembled a “cheese product”, which I still managed to find in Russian stores before my departure. And about the one, each slice of which is packed in a separate bag, and there is nothing to say – is it cheese? It’s pure palm oil!

The good news is that not a single palm tree is harmed in the manufacture of American cheeses. I was leaving Russia when food sanctions were in effect for two years, excluding not only distant American and European products, but even dairy products from the neighboring Baltic states from the domestic diet. usa.one. News of two frozen geese raised by Hungarian farmers and crushed by Tatarstan farmers, and mountains of crushed Polish apples in every dump in the country, by this time was no longer surprising.

What about palm

The American food industry also uses palm oil, of course. Where without him? True, the list of products in the manufacture of which it is used is noticeably smaller. According to the international environmental organization Friends of the Earth, this ingredient is found in crackers, breakfast cereals, Mars chocolate bars (Snickers, MilkyWay, Twix, etc.), Heinz canned soups and frozen convenience foods, SaraLee baked goods (croissants, chocolate and fruit pies, cheesecakes, waffle crumbles and puddings) and Nabisco (Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers, chips).

In dairy products, palm oil is seen in some types of ice cream. As for cheeses, we are talking only about Mac&Cheese cheese mix (it tastes like a cross between kindergarten macaroni and cheese and milk soup) and Velveeta cheese sauce. But neither the one nor the other, not only immigrants, but the Americans themselves do not consider cheese.

Cheese patriotism

Another thing is the so-called American cheese – the same yellow-orange squares familiar to us from domestic food products, packed in separate plastic bags. In our understanding, it is rather a product of processing natural cheese – the so-called processed cheese. For the average American, who is not particularly interested in the cuisines of other countries, this type of cheese is hardly the main one. It seems that not a single sandwich or burger can do without it. Moreover, not only catering, but often home-made.

Strictly speaking, this product can be attributed to real cheese in the pre-sanction sense, which is familiar to us, with large assumptions But, thanks to its composition, it perfectly meets the main requirement, which, judging by the marketing surveys of Kraft (the largest manufacturer of dairy products), makes cheese the majority of American raw foodists. A good cheese in their understanding should melt well. In a sense, melt when heated, enveloping what is under it with a fatty, viscous mass: vegetables, a cutlet, chicken or fish fillet.

Initially, American cheese with such “performance characteristics” was made exclusively from natural cheddar and colby Now, in order to make the product cheaper, manufacturers use various additives – milk, whey and its protein, milk protein concentrate, milk fat, enzymes, calcium phosphate, salt, sodium citrate and sorbic acid as preservatives, and paprika extract for color. But not palm oil!

There is also real cheese in this product, it’s just that its content does not exceed 51% «    Therefore, according to the US Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for the taste of cheese as well, it is more correct to call it a “cheese product”. It is not difficult to distinguish this very “American cheese”: it is usually sold in blocks or small packages of “singles” – those same cheese squares in plastic.

Creative approach However, consumers’ love for processed – “American” – cheese does not mean at all that the US “cheese plate” is limited to this product Even in the most budget grocery store, the shelves are quite diverse – from supposedly Italian mozzarella, provolone and parmesan to local cheddar and Mexican cheeses such as feta cheese. True, if the latter can still be accepted as a kind of authentic product – the way it is, then, so to speak, historically European cheeses most often cause great surprise, and even disappointment.

Mozzarella cheese

For me personally, the biggest surprise was mozzarella cheese. With inherent creativity or self-confidence, American cheese makers bravely ignore almost all the rules of the Italian recipe. Mozzarella in the American version is a kind of tightly knit, elastic cheese, vaguely reminiscent of factory-made suluguni in taste. In America, mozzarella is cut into thin slices, rubbed on a grater, or even completely turned into cheese sticks.

There is no question of any brine in which a tender juicy ball of buffalo milk floats However, as it turned out, it is this type (it is unlikely that it can be called a variety) of mozzarella that occupies the largest share of the American cheese market – 21%, displacing the traditional natural Cheddar cheese on it, the recipe of which was brought to the American continent back in the 17th century by settlers from England.

That’s because American mozzarella is considered a dietary staple and part of the diet of the growing army of Americans who strive to lead a healthy lifestyle and watch their diet The fact is that a standard piece of American mozzarella contains 78 calories and only 4% of the daily intake of salt, but the protein concentration exceeds 8 grams or 16% of the daily intake.

By the way, the American cheese producers dealt with the Parmesan recipe no less resolutely. In any case, what is sold in ordinary supermarkets. Usually, when describing Parmesan, experts refer to it as a hard cheese of long maturation and describe it as a product with a “brittle texture, uneven cut and crumbling when sliced.” Until the mid-90s, about the same parmesan was sold in American stores. Moreover, it was the only cheese that was not sliced.

However, in 1994, Kraft technologists “slightly improved” the recipe – and voila! get American Parmesan, which is now available not only as a whole piece, but also cut into slices The mass consumer either did not notice the change in the recipe, or, on the contrary, appreciated it – American Parmesan has been firmly in third place in the popularity rating of American-made cheeses for many years.

Cheese for health

Cheese for health or pleasure? It is curious that even with such innovations, when talking about the nutritional properties of Parmesan, nutritionists still operate not with a “slice”, but with a “tablespoon”, which contains 33 calories And it is strongly recommended to give this cheese to children. Vitamin D, which is rich in parmesan, is believed to strengthen bones and help build muscle.

By the way, Parmesan is not the only cheese that Americans use for medicinal purposes In the southern states, Jack Monterey cheese is very popular as a remedy for migraines, and quite official doctors recommend using it for preventive purposes. And my Mexican classmates eat jack instead of some Mezim to relieve the feeling of heaviness in the stomach after a heavy meal and even more – to “disperse” the metabolism.

At the same time, “old-school” cheddar, although it does not enjoy a reputation as a healthy cheese and even lost ground by as much as 6 points to mozzarella (its market share today is 15%), still remains one of the most popular varieties in the States I must say that Americans, especially those living in the outback, are generally quite “refractory” in the sense of all kinds of culinary innovations.

And all sorts of McDonald’s and Burger Kings successfully use this, without changing the menu for years, well, except perhaps adding something seasonal to the basic recipes And why, if sales are going well anyway? The most important quality for which the inhabitants of the States respect cheddar so much is its ability to melt as soon as it gets into a hot environment. To do this, it does not even have to be sent to the oven – you can simply grate it on hot pasta or sprinkle it with baked potatoes.

Speaking about the benefits of their pet, cheddar eaters usually talk about how it is considered one of the richest in vitamins, minerals and trace elements of cheese in the world Opponents, on the other hand, because of its bright orange color, suspect cheddar of the presence of chemical additives, or simply of being cheap. Farmers, who supply milk to factories that produce this oldest cheese in the States, assure that the matter is in the grass that their cows eat – it has a lot of beta-carotene, which does not break down even during the manufacturing process.

Followers of a healthy lifestyle have only one complaint about cheddar – high calorie content (113 calories per standard slice) and an excess of so-called cheese fat. To burn one spoonful of such, you have to sweat in the gym for 45 minutes, they are horrified.

By the way, European cheese producers, outraged by the free interpretation of the recipe, have been trying for years to force their American colleagues to abandon the original cheese names. In their opinion, American cheeses are “only a pale shadow” of real European ones. American cheese makers, of course, categorically disagree with such a formulation of the issue. They believe that the rejection of such names as parmesan, mozzarella, gorgonzola, romano, munster, fontina, neufchatel and feta (these are the cheeses that the Europeans are trying to win back) will plunge the American buyer into confusion.

Being customer-oriented manufacturers, they cannot be so irresponsible to the consumer And, of course, to yourself too. After all, the rejection of traditional names will hit the entire US cheese industry. And its turnover, for a minute, is 4 billion dollars a year.

Four years ago, a representative group of 55 US senators once again categorically rejected the proposal of the Europeans, retorting with the spontaneity inherent in the current US president: “Munster is Munster, no matter how you slice it”    And American farmers and cheese makers even believe that the popularity of European cheeses in the United States is solely their merit: the Europeans just brought the recipes, and the Americans themselves made them famous and profitable on the local market. So no cheese confusion! At least for now.

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