Cheese-Preference or Dogma?

"Is that blue or white Stilton?"

This was the first question I got asked when I mentioned on Twitter that I had just purchased some for my supper. And when I replied it was blue, there was a supplemental question: “Is that pure Stilton or with raisins etc?”

These questions are of course of no interest to most cheese eaters, but they are paramount to a certain small section of cheese lovers. And it got me thinking-what if it had been white Stilton with raisins? Or mango? Would that have been so wrong?

Caerphilly, Lancashire, Brie; they all have their admirers, but has personal preference given way to dogma? For me it’s whether the cheese is good or bad. I’ve no problem with Stilton & raisins. Or even Stilton with mango & ginger..

However, the mere mention of extraneous food stuffs in cheese sends Crackers-members of CRAC, the Campaign for Real Authentic Cheese, into a stupor. And don't even mention pasteurisation. Their forums are full of debate over whether Stilton is even technically real. Or is it a mere shadow of “real” cheeses such as Roquefort?

Common sense says it's about the cheese. If I give you a cheese that doesn't fit with your definition of cheese, but is generally regarded as a flavourful, quality cheese, you could:

Eat it and say, "Amazing - it's not about real or keg- it's just about the taste of the cheese."
Eat it, and perhaps say something like, "Wow, I still prefer real cheese generally, but I'll admit there are some pretty damn good cheeses that are pasteurised and contain extraneous food stuffs."
Say, "If it's not real cheese I refuse to eat it. It must be rubbish."

Most people would say option 1, whilst most Crackers would probably go for option 2. However, I have met people who live by option 3. These are the kind of people who are hung up with methods of dispense. What packaging does it come in? Is it shrink-wrapped or cloth bound?

The point is we are all on the same side. We all love cheese. But If CRAC insists on sticking to its outdated manifesto, I fear it risks being marginalised in years to come. If it wants to survive, it needs to modernise and take a good look at the cheese counter in the local supermarket.

Perhaps a step in the direction of being more inclusive would be if it changed its name to the Campaign for the Revitalization of Artisan Cheese. Sadly, with CRAC members unable to even agree on the use of rennet, I fear this will remain a pipe dream.

I've tried to outline the argument in reasonable terms, understand CRAC’s position and specify why I think it's wrong. I'd be hugely grateful if you wanted to respond in kind.


Anonymous said…
Sounds like you've finally CRACed up
liam said…
What about processed cheese and dairylea? Smokesd and low fat cheese? Are there local branches of Crac looking after the interests of locally produced cheese?
RedNev said…
How about picketing Asda to prevent the delivery of Smart Price processed cheese slices? They've never been within 10 miles of any rennet.
Barry said…
As a cheese scooper, would I be made welcome in CRAC?
Penny said…
Who cares about the cheese? What about the biscuits it comes with:)
Gavin Davis said…
The fact that this whole rant has been based on a blatant misquote has been overlooked. I have tasted some very good block cheeses and don't ignore craft block cheese. However many that I have tried recently have been pretty underwhelming and generally I find cheese made "in the round" to be far better. What position would you have the CRAC take on the issue of Real Cheese? I don't see anything wrong with a consumer asking how a product is produced, matured, served, and then making his/her own choice based on this information. This rewriting of history that says cloth-bound unpasteurised cheese was better than block in the past because block cheese was so awful, and, that things might have been better if better mass produced cheese had been around, is rubbish. Unigate Lymeswold may have been awful but much block cheese was and is perfectly acceptable. Check out the comments next to the entry for the Cheshire Cheese Dairies, block production in the Great British Cheese book 1982. I ate plenty of block cheese in the late eighties early nineties and it was perfectly edible, The drawback? It didn't taste as good as real unpasteurised, cloth-bound cheddar or a well rinded Caerphilly. I'd be interested to know whether that Stilton was white or blue though, why? because I am interested.
Tyson said…

You make a persuasive case and thanks for reminding me of Lymeswold.


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