Monday, October 19, 2009

Verdana: Cheese or Font?

A good friend of mine, who happens to be full-throttle food enthusiast herself, passed this website onto to me. What a good time! I played this game for quite a while, and it really is quite addictive - easily justified as one can claim that cheese research is being done! This game would easily lend itself to a dinner-party cheese course scenario... the possibilities are certainly there. Give it a try and see for yourselves how many cheese names and fonts there are in the world.
If you are a competitive type, consider doing research prior to playing. For fun, I checked out my 2006 edition of "The Oxford Companion to Food" by Alan Davidson, to see what it had to say on the matter. Some of the more interesting, and less technical tid-bits include the following:
In 1962, Charles de Gaulle was credited for famously quipping, "How can you govern a country that has 324 varieties of cheese?" to Winston Churchill.
Nowadays, the French cheese count lies somewhere between 450 and 750 varieties.
The worldwide guestimate for cheese varieties is now in the 1500 range, not counting the many nameless types made by small producers, see below.
The cheese with the highest milk-fat content is of course French - the gorgeous Brillat-Savarin which rings in at a whopping 75%*! (*Note: I believe that the European method of measuring milk-fat (MF) is different than that used in North America. The European method yields a much higher percentage, double in fact, than the North American. This could, however, be the answer to the "French Paradox" and the "super-size" of people on our side of the pond. To be further investigated.)
In 1840, a group of Somerset farmers presented a 567 kg (1,250 lb) wheel of cheddar to Queen Victoria as a wedding present.
A hundred and twenty four years later, Wisconsin dairy farmers set out to create the biggest cheddar ever, and it weighed in at 15,190 kg (34,591 lb)!

Cheese is actually one of the oldest of man-made foods dating back to the prehistoric beginning of herding. Cave drawings, found in the Libyan Sahara and dating back to 5000 B.C., depict what appears to be cheese making. Cheese has even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs as an after-life snack.

A few of my personal favorite cheese memories yield from France. My husband and I were once in Bordeaux, staying in an unmemorable one-star hotel. We had reservations for transportation, but preferred to wing it for food and hotels. Across the street from the hotel, we stumbled upon a hip little restaurant with a "Baud & Millet" recommendation sticker in the window. There were various price-levels of prix-fixe menus and all included a visit to the cheese cave located in the cellar. The vaulted ceiling cave was carved out of limestone, had a water drip to maintain humidity and had three levels of shelves - all lined with cheese. I just found the link! It has been a few years since we were there, however, if you happen to be Bordeaux - you must go, and on an empty stomach.
On another trip, we were in Corsica enjoying a meal in a restaurant. I complimented the owner on the cheese and asked its name. "Madame, c'est du fromage!" was the response, and pursuing the question only resulted in the same answer. I speak French, so language was not the issue. I rather think that the cheese was one of those nameless products that is made and enjoyed locally.

The above photo was a creative collaboration with photographer Michael Kohn,

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