In this blog series, intern Julia will explore the everyday language surrounding cheese, from etymology to idioms to associations. Learn why we “say cheese” when we take a photo, why once upon a time we believed that the world was made of green cheese, or even the history of the word cheese itself. Plus, be sure to answer the prompt at the end of the post each week for a chance to win a copy of culture’s ultimate cheese pairing guide: Cheese+
I have always gravitated toward cheese. At soccer pasta parties I would beeline to the baked mac ‘n’ cheese, taking as large a scoop as I could without causing complaints. My brown-bag lunches regularly consisted of sliced provolone with honey mustard, and my after-school snacks were often cheddar and apples. If my dad wasn’t paying attention, I would add extra handfuls of pre-shredded cheese to the pizzas he made us. Holiday plates of brie and jam were at my mercy. When I was really little, my grandfather would come over and make his signature grilled cheese, with butter slathered on both sides of the bread and a good four or five slices of American cheese in between.
I first realized there was much more to cheese than just my small, processed cheese experiences when I visited Europe. Part of me must have known about artisanal and specialized cheeses, just as I know there are both cheap and finely crafted chocolates. But studying abroad in Europe—where we were served delicious brie at every breakfast and where each country I visited featured cheese in so many dishes–I was really hit over the head with the sheer variety. Europe was also where I discovered a personal favorite, Gouda—from the giant wheels you would see stacked in storefronts all over the Netherlands to the snack-sized wedges in the local grocery store. Given the consistent appearance of cheese in my life, perhaps it’s no surprise that I ended up interning here at culture.
As far as cheese goes, I still have a lot to learn (although, just hanging with the staff at culture has taught me more about cheese than I knew in my entire life up until this point!) One thing I had already noticed, however, is the universal appeal of this dairy product. People have a personal relationship with their cheeses—a favorite cheesemonger, a go-to pairing, etc.—but that love is also spread globally, shared between cultures.
This love of cheese is so extensive that it lends itself to aspects of life beyond the taste buds. In my blog series, I will look at some of the linguistic implications of “cheese” and related terms. From etymology to idioms to associations, I will try to uncover the history, modern usage, and fun facts surrounding cheese-inspired phrases and ideas. We’ll kick off the series with next week’s post on the history of the word “cheese” itself!
To tide you over until then, answer this question: What is your favorite phrase or quote involving cheese? Answer in the comments section below by March 18, 2014 at midnight EDT for a chance to win an issue of our upcoming special issue, Cheese+. Don’t forget to tune in next week, when we look at the history of the word cheese!Photo Credit: Naroa. via Compfight cc