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Political Cheddar

Yesterday, over three million Scottish voters headed to the polls to cast their votes for or against an independent national state, and the rest of the world anxiously awaited to discover the shape of the future United Kingdom. If voters had decided to officially break their 300-year-old bond with Mother England, the Great Britain as we’ve long known it would have ceased to exist. Everything from the iconic British flag, down to the appropriately named Island of Britain was on the brink of undergoing a staggering change.

In the days leading up to the historic vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron solemnly addressed Scottish voters by pleading, “We want you to stay…Head and heart and soul, we want you to stay.”And as Scotland’s voters made their voices heard, they officially decided to continue their time-honored relationship with the United Kingdom.

With Scotland’s recent presence in the international limelight, more attention than usual has been given to the highland country’s unique national traditions. Although some might assume that Scotland is merely an extension of its English counterpart, Scotland boasts its own rich culture (and we’re not just talking about those kilts). In fact, Scotland’s impressive history of cheese production is an important part to the United Kingdom’s hypothetical cheese board.

When it comes to their cheddar, the Brits have strong opinions about what type they love best, and their overwhelming favorite goes to the Scottish brands that account for over half of the total cheddar consumption within the UK. Not just popular among fellow UK citizens, Scottish Cheddar accounts for 70-80% of Scotland’s cheese export, and has also received honorable accolades from the international consumer, with the Isle of Arran Creamery taking last year’s World’s Best Cheddar award.

Similar to the now infamous Scottish cheddar, Scotland is more typically known for its matured cheeses. Due to its northern geographic location, the climate of Scotland has historically lent itself to the production of hearty cheeses that can withstand being stored through long winter months. During the short cheesemaking season, Scottish suppliers often use traditional methods for producing creamier cheeses, each type with a history as rich as its flavor. Crowdie, for example, is a light and buttery cheese that was first introduced to Scotland by the Vikings in the eighth century. Meanwhile, Dunsyre Blue is a warm, slightly spiced blue made from the unpasteurized milk of Ayrshire cows, a cattle breed native to the Scottish Isles. And last but not least is the humble Caboc cheese log, believed to be Scotland’s oldest cheese, and is traditionally rolled in a coating toasted, nutty oats.

Although England has its own decadent cheese history, Scotland has proven itself to be the perfect pairing to the rest of the UK. As the primary producer of one of Britain’s favorite cheddars, Scottish cheesemakers would have been sorely missed if the country had broken away from the union, making their ‘yes’ vote that much more of a success.

Photo Credit: Madame Fromage

Emily Dangler

Culture Intern Emily Dangler is a creative writer and travel enthusiast, who is always looking for a good story to tell. Originally a West Coast girl, Emily has spent several years migrating across the country and is currently an adopted resident of Boston, where she is enjoying the city's delicious food and rich history.