The Wednesday recipe is today substituted by a food rant 😉 However, if you are interested in an inspirational food blog – check out my friend Erika’s Food Blog (in Swedish). She publishes weekly menus and yummy but simple recipes. It is quite fitting that I refer to Erika today as we share an obsession for the Alpine cheese speciality raclette ever since we studied French together in Annecy, France*!
Standard question in the US: Do you want cheese with that? which often becomes Don’t you want cheese?* Bitchy Petchie thinks “I would have ordered a cheese burger if I wanted cheese with my burger!” However, most of the time you don’t even have a choice; cheesy omelettes, spinach with cheese, cheesy scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes with cheese, artichoke dip with melted cheese, cheesy hash – the list goes on…
Not the best illustration of a egg-and-cheese-biscuit (since I didn’t open the wrapper) I got as breakfast on the plane last week. I only ate half of the muffin as I had already eaten a proper sandwich at the airport, and didn’t touch the scarily cheesy biscuits…
I read a recipe in Elle Decor (US edition) for Duck-and-egg hash, where it was first of all claimed that “putting potatoes together with meat is distinctly American“, which I would beg to differ – what about the Swedish pyttipanna or the Danish biksemad? But yes, the recipe was distinctly American in the sense that it contained 4 oz of cheddar!
What’s with the cheese obsession in the US? I probably sound like a snobby European, but if you love cheese so much – why don’t you eat the real deal, instead of “cheese”? Processed cheese doesn’t even taste like cheese, and is so full of preservatives and additives. It does seem like there has been a turn lately in the cheese habits of the Americans, at least in the ads on TV it is increasingly common to point out that the pizza is made with “real cheese” or that the cheese is not “processed” but made the traditional way.
I am also fascinated by the little variety of cheese: I head Rachael Ray say once “Gruyère tastes similar to Swiss” – You don’t say, Gruyère IS a Swiss cheese!! And what is “Swiss” cheese anyway, that’s like calling a cheese “French”! Switzerland has 450 types of cheese (and France even more), while the US seems to have American, Swiss, Monterey Jack and cheddar. You would expect a cheese-loving people to demand a little more when it comes to taste, texture and ingredients.
Don’t get me wrong, I like cheese too, but there’s a time and a place for it! I don’t want cheese in every dish – scrambled eggs are perfectly tasty without cheese, mashed potatoes as well, while I do like a slice of cheese on my morning sandwich. I had breakfast at the hotel in New Jersey last Friday and was a little surprised to realise that there was no cheese on the breakfast buffet. Quite a few types of bread (well, two types of ready-sliced bread, and different kinds of bagels) but only jam, cream cheese and peanut butter. In the end I didn’t have any bread, just some cereal, hash browns and fruit salad.
In our household we eat our fair share of cheese; O’s yummy sandwiches for breakfast on the weekends, and O loves a snack of the above crayfish “cheese” on a piece of bread. I also do acknowledge that this kind of Swedish “cheese” is not better than American processed “cheese”, but to my excuse I don’t actually eat it. The “Swiss cheese product”, next to the cheese tube in the above photo, was left behind by our youngest visitor – whose mother noted that it was obvious that her daugther was American-born since she had refused to eat “real cheese” when she was in Sweden! O’s family absolutely loves Swedish hard cheese and we always bring a few kilos when we go to Spain from Sweden, while my parents love the Spanish Manchego, a type of sheep’s cheese.
Finally, I also find it interesting that Rachael Ray (who I by the way, do like) will say that a dish that she is making is really healthy because it has a lot of vegetables, and then she pours in a cup or two of cheese!! Oh well, that’s like putting cream on your breakfast porridge, as shown on ads for Reddi Whip***; just another one of those American phenomena I am so fascinated with. Maybe it is just an ad (let’s hope), but the idea of whipped cream on porridge feels like a sacrilege – porridge that can be such a healthy choice for breakfast…
And for an etiquette question, more or less related to cheese:
When you are in a proper restaurant (i.e not a fast-food joint), and you have ordered a hamburger, with or without cheese, do you eat it with your hands or with cutlery? I always eat it with fork and knife, which I realise maybe is completely against the idea of a burger but I don’t like eating stuff with my hands (too messy) and I usually don’t eat the top part of the bread (usually too much bread for me). What about you?
NB. The question refers to eating a burger in a proper restaurant, i.e not in McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King…
*) We also studied in Linköping but that didn’t leave any long-lasting food memory!?
**) Almost comparable to the reaction you get in the UK when you don’t want milk with your tea!
***) I won’t get started on what I think about whipped “cream” sold in a can – something I have hated since I was a child and I learnt to order “eis ohne sahne” in German!