Hold on to your blue boxes and your viscous yellow liquids! This blog series will take you on a wild ride through the history, politics, science, and culture of processed cheese, including the origins of factory cheese, the rise of James L. Kraft, and the miracle of milk protein concentrate. I hope you didn't miss last week's thrilling conclusion to the Kraft Keepsakes two-parter, but if you did, you can read all about Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese Dinner here.
Here's a fascinating round-up of sensory research from Discover involving our favorite foodstuf:
Previous research has indicated that showing subjects "geometically sharp" objects before having them sample cheese contributed to the subject's perception of cheese as tasting sharp; a case of a sensory metaphor affecting actual sensory perception. Scientists at Oxford University wondered if the perception of sharpness could actually transfer to cheese to eating utensils, which, after all, are a sharp class of objects.
Tasting Tuesdays have become a regular feature over at the Boston office, and when they asked me to pitch in, of course I said yes. It didn't hurt that they were sending me Beemster's XO Gouda, which is one of my avowedly favorite cheeses. XO is aged 26 months, and has a wonderful grainy texture because of it, along with a sharp-sweet-savory flavor like that reminds me of a liquor-filled, salted caramel bonbon.
...and the makers of Qmilk put out this, ah, fascinating promotion.
And for those fretting about why we would want to make a silky chemise, instead of silky cheese, never fear:
Our suppliers use only milk that doesn't meet dairy milk regulations and should not be used for food.... Every year about 1.9 million tonnes of non-marketable milk will be discarded by agricultural enterprises in Germany alone.
Sustainability is so hot.
In Saturday's New York Times, Mark Bittman tells the story of his heartburn, and how quitting dairy helped him lick a lifelong case of acid reflux. Turns out, after leaving off cow-juice for just a day, he found total relief.
I mentioned this to a friend who had the same problem, tried the same approach, and had the same results. Presto! No dairy, no heartburn! (A third had no success. Hey, it’s not a controlled double-blind experiment, but there is no downside to trying it.)
Bully for him. Some cheap self-experimentation sounds a lot better to me than a lifetime of antacids. But he should have taken the whole "it's not rigorous science" thing to heart, because the rest of his column is filled with bad arguments about dairy, and milk in particular, propped up with some highly dubious "experts".
I just saw this clip of a "new" outrage in the meat industry: inferior cuts bonded together to form decoy filet mignons and other more spendy items. The magic happens with transglutaminase, a naturally-occurring enzyme that goes by the charming moniker of "meat glue":
The journal Nature recently published a fascinating study from Northeastern University on the prevalence of similar taste compounds in cuisines around the world. The researchers began by making a massive database of foods and the chemicals known to affect the flavor of those foods. They then made a map connecting those foods to one another based on how many of the same flavor compounds those foods shared, essentially creating a "cuisine genome" of interrelated flavors.
A good friend of mine was recently told that her cholesterol levels were too high. She was handed the usual dietary order: Cut out dairy foods—like cheese and butter—that have saturated fat. This has been the standard prescription from doctors for more than 20 years, despite the fact that epidemiological studies and new research don’t support this blanket rejection of dairy. Remember the French Paradox? (Even with all the yummy cheese and butter that’s consumed in France, the natives have much less heart disease than Americans.) And there’s this post from a scientist regarding a 15-year study in Australia that found: “people who mostly avoided dairy or consumed low-fat dairy had more than three times the risk of dying of coronary heart disease or stroke than people who ate the most full-fat diary.”
This blog post was written by Adriann Negreros, an undergraduate researcher in the Dutton lab at Harvard.
We work in a cheese lab, so it’s no surprise to learn that we all love to eat—and to have fun. Yes, we do have our 9-5’s, but the daily grind in the Dutton lab just isn’t all that troublesome (clearly, we need to work more). Jokes aside, when we’re not dissecting a fresh rind of Bayley Hazen Blue into 1 mm x 1 mm squares (to discover just “who” is living there), or slowly uncovering a new species via our cheeses—we’re playing with mites. Yes, mites; those seemingly scary eight-legged little critters capable of growing on cheese.