Before we get too far with this cheese-off, I have to admit that the whole idea seemed a little hilarious to me. Do people really confuse processed cheese with “real” cheese? Can they not tell the difference? I mean, you can tell which cheese is the processed slice above just by looking – it’s the one with the plasticky shine to it.
We had Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Squares in the pantry (their version of Triscuits) and I totally forgot we had grapes in the fridge, so instead of a cheese snack tray, I kind of just ended up with cheese and crackers. Which isn’t bad at all. I went to Vons for this cheese trip, but all I really found were pre-sliced packages of cheese – does Sargento even make block cheese? I picked up some baby swiss, sharp cheddar, muenster, and then “American” slices.
Sargento provided four steps to tasting cheese:
- Look at the cheese – The cheddar, baby swiss, and muenster had a good matte finish; the American slice was kind of shiny. It was actually shinier than I remember that stuff being.
- Touch the cheese – The baby swiss actually had a soft waxy feel to it. The cheddar was smooth and the muenster was soft. Not mushy soft, just soft. The American cheese actually stuck to my finger and got kind of pasty. All three natural cheeses broke when bent. I don’t think you can break or bend cheese paste.
- Smell the cheese – Hee hee… I’m sure with time and practice I might be able to give you scent differences between cheddar and muenster and swiss cheese. I do know a Brie smells different from a blue which smells different than goat cheese, but those weren’t among my snack crackers. The American cheese didn’t really smell like plastic – it kind of didn’t smell like anything.
- Taste the cheese – Finally! I actually tasted the American cheese first because it’s been a long time since I remember trying it. It kind of just tastes like salt. Salt and sweetness and that American-cheese flavor. I don’t know how else to describe it. The baby swiss almost tasted like it needed more salt; the muenster was creamy and the cheddar was, well, cheddar-y. Seriously – how do people describe the taste of cheese? These weren’t earthy cheeses, or stinky ones, they were just tasty cheeses. Sorry. I’m a terrible cheese taster.