Seafood and Cheese? Yes! | culture: the word on cheese
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Seafood and Cheese? Yes!

Blame us Italians! From the fanciest table in the swankiest ristorante to Nonna’s own dining room table, we’ve long been told that seafood and cheese just don’t belong together. But where’s the proof? Is this just one of Nonna’s old-world kitchen superstitions? Is it because fish, with it’s light taste, is easily overpowered by the rich intensity of Italian cheeses like pecorino or Parmigiano? Or, as Smithsonian Magazine puts it, is it because the traditional cheesemaking regions are landlocked, leaving seafood far from the palate of any casaro (that’s cheesemaker in Italian)?

All of these answers have some truth to them. Regardless, the idea that seafood and cheese don’t belong together is just plain wrong. While some cheeses are certainly too tangy or too sharp to pair with fish, there are plenty of other light options that would go well with some frutti di mare. According to The Huffington Post, who list 23 recipes in which seafood and cheese are completely acceptable, there are certainly some valid combinations:

There are always exceptions to the rules, however. Breaking them can be fun if you know what you’re doing, and pairing fish with cheese is a perfect example. Seafood with cheese appears in some French recipes — think Lobster Thermidor, made with Parmesan or Gruyere cheese — as well as some Italian ones — we know you’ve heard of anchovies on pizza.

Yes, admittedly the French caught us off guard with this one. But even still, let this be proof that tradition isn’t always right; you can enjoy some killer combinations like shrimp and mascarpone without worrying about a taste bud overload. What I would worry about is: who cut that pizza in the photo?

Photo by Martha Stewart

Nick D'Errico

Nick D'Errico was raised in an Italian family where he developed an appreciation for good food, a fear of flying bedroom slippers, and a love of cheese. He works as an editorial intern at Culture and currently studies writing and publishing (he wanted to be an engineer, but can't do math). In his spare time, he dons 40 lbs of padding and stands in front of rubber projectiles as a hockey goalie.