Simon Wood

Hump Day: The Power of Cheese

I suppose every country has a food associated with it that defines its national identity. For the English, it’s fish & chips. For the Canadians, it’s bacon. But surprisingly, for the Americans, it’s not what you would think. No one may be willing to admit it, but it’s cheese. I don’t know if it’s a self-conscious selection or not, but Americans have an obsession with this dairy product. As a foreigner in the US, it really sticks out. It’s as though cheese has some mystical power. It’s touted everywhere. Food manufacturers boast the amount, the types and the number of cheeses they use. Papa Murphy’s (obviously started by an Irish-Italian) claim that they put at least a pound of cheese on their pizzas. Taco Bell’s new Quesadilla has three kinds of cheese and nothing else. Kraft claims that cheese is spelled K-R-A-F-T. Phonetically, I’m still struggling with that one, but I take their point. Essentially, cheese is the dairy gold that we all must have.

What burger joint doesn’t ask, “Do you want cheese with that?” The waiters at my favorite Italian restaurant are disappointed that I continually reject their advances to scatter a little Parmesano on my salad, my pasta and my tiramisu.

Before you think I’m crazy, my suspicions were confirmed when a study last year said Americans eat too much cheese and consumption is at dangerous levels. I’m not sure how they know this. I have visions of some machine somewhere with the needle quivering in the RED LEICESTER danger zone. Either way, Americans eat 30lbs of cheese for every man, woman and child. That’s 450 Millions Tons a year!!

Cheese certainly seems to be a deal clincher here. I’m looking to buy a new car in the next year and knowing how strapped the car industry is, I wouldn’t be surprised if cheese doesn’t make an appearance. “What do I have to do to put you in this car today? How about under-sealing and 5lbs of Monterey Jackā€¦?”

But I have yet to be swayed and I remain strong under the immense pressure I’m placed under.

I wonder if there is a darker reason for cheese to be touted so hard. Does cheese have similar properties to Solent Green and am I the only one to realize this?

So, for me, the next time you’re asked, “Do you want cheese with that?” Say, “No.” You might start to see the truth behind the power of cheese.

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