More news from the Russian anti-cheese front. As we’ve previously talked about, Vladimir Putin has caused much pain to cheese-loving Russians via his embargo on European cheeses. This commodity freeze has been a slight but jarring retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia’s invasion in Crimea.
Russians haven’t taken this so easily. The Guardian reports that a man was recently caught with about 1,000 pounds of cheese trying to cross the Polish border. They probably didn’t even need to bring out the cheese-sniffing dogs to figure out what was going on. Cheese is allowed to be brought back for personal consumption but not commercial use. The man’s claim that it was all his personal cheese certainly raised some eyebrows. I mean, we all love cheese, but come on.
Some smugglers have circumvented the embargo by falsely labeling cheese as lactose free, which is exempt from the regulations. They then, of course, run into the issue of trying to convince people the cheese is not really lactose free. All of this is to say that cheese is no stranger to being an accomplice. It is, after all, the the most stolen food in the world.
It’s easy to sympathize with these savory speakeasies. After all, if they want cheese in their supermarkets, they have to face down food-label forgeries. I don’t know about you, but I’d get caught choosing between “paste-like processed dessert with cheese,” and “processed food with cheese.” The former is slightly more specific, so I know exactly what I’m getting, but the latter could be so many things. The possibilities!
You won’t catch Russian cheesemakers complaining, though—an embargo on foreign cheeses has meant increased production of domestic cheeses. But, as the New York Times reported earlier this month, Russian original cheeses are often openly mocked in supermarkets, with one vendor urging its customers to “stop whining” and “start chewing our own Russian-made cheese spread.”
The limited news available to the public leave many questions unanswered. Sure, he had 1000 pounds of cheese at the Polish border, but how much did he start with? You don’t drive around in a cheese scented car without stopping every ten miles to break for brie. Did the border patrol smell the gouda on his breath and get suspicious? Until culture secures an exclusive interview with this Colby-Jack Sparrow, we can only wonder.