Cheese glorious cheese

Cheese glorious cheese. Like it? I love it!

5 Interesting Things About Cheese:

1. Etymology

The word cheese comes from Latin caseus, from which the modern word casein is closely derived. The earliest source is from the proto-Indo-European root *kwat-, which means “to ferment, become sour”.

More recently, cheese comes from chese (in Middle English) and cīese or cēse (in Old English). Similar words are shared by other West Germanic languages — West Frisian tsiis, Dutch kaas, German Käse, Old High German chāsi — all from the reconstructed West-Germanic form *kasjus, which in turn is an early borrowing from Latin.

When the Romans began to make hard cheeses for their legionaries’ supplies, a new word started to be used: formaticum, from caseus formatus, or “molded cheese” (as in “formed”, not “moldy”). It is from this word that the French fromage, Italian formaggio, Catalan formatge, Breton fourmaj, and Provençal furmo are derived. The word Cheese itself is occasionally employed in a sense that means “molded” or “formed”. Head cheese uses the word in this sense.


  • The top cheese producers are the US
  • The top cheese exporters are France
  • The top cheese consumers are Greece


2. Ploughman’s lunch

It has long been accepted that the Ploughman’s lunch (cheese, bread and pickle washed down with beer) was an invention of Sixties advertising. Certainly that was when the Cheese Council first started using the term. However, there is also evidence that the term Ploughman’s (or Ploughboy’s) Lunch was used in the Fifties and even earlier. There are photographs of ploughmen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, sitting in the fields lunching on what looks like bread, cheese and beer. An 1837 Life of Walter Scott mentions “an extemporised sandwich, that looked like a ploughman’s lunch”. What seems most likely is that post-war cheese marketers were determined to remind the public of the long-standing practice of eating bread and cheese in pubs, which had been interrupted by rationing.

3. Cheesy dreams

In 2005 the British Cheese Board organised a study involving 200 volunteers in an attempt to nail the old wives’ tale that eating cheese before sleep gives you nightmares. The results revealed a different story: more than three quarters of the participants, who ate 20 grams of cheese before going to bed, reported undisturbed sleep, although the majority of them were able to recall their dreams. More surprisingly, the different varieties of cheese seemed to produce different kinds of dream. Cheddar induced a higher proportion of dreams about celebrities; Red Leicester summoned childhood memories; Lancashire generated dreams about work; while Cheshire inspired no dreams at all. The overall conclusion was that cheese was a perfectly safe late-night snack which, because of its high levels of the serotonin-producing amino acid tryptophan, was far more likely to induce sleep and reduce stress.

4. More cheese, Gromit?

It may come as a shock to discover that the British cheese board now lists more than 700 varieties of British cheese – almost twice as many as our fromage-gobbling neighbours in France. However, they still consume twice as much per head as we do, and 55 per cent of the £1.8 billion British cheese market is attributed to sales of just one variety: cheddar. Also, British cheese “varieties” encompass such modern, marketing-driven abominations as Lancashire Christmas Pudding and Cheddar with Mint Choc Chips and Cherries.

5. You must know the types already but just in case you don’t…


A characteristic of cheese varieties that develop blue or green streaks of harmless, flavor-producing mold throughout the interior. Generally, veining gives cheese an assertive and piquant flavour.


A descriptive term for cheeses, such as Parmesan, Romano and Asiago, that are well-aged, easily grated and primarily used in cooking.


A classification of cheese based upon body. Cheddar, Colby, Edam and Gouda are examples of semi-hard cheese varieties.

Pasta Filata

Pasta Filata cheeses have curds that are heated and stretched or kneaded before being molded into shape. The cheese stretches when melted. Pasta Filata cheeses include Mozzarella, Provolone and String.

Soft and Fresh

Cheeses with high moisture content, typically direct set with the addition of lactic acid cultures. This category includes cheeses like Cottage cheese, Cream cheese, Feta, Mascarpone, Ricotta, and Queso Blanco.


A wide variety of cheeses made with whole milk. Cheeses in this category include Monterey Jack, Brick, Muenster, Fontina and Havarti, and melt well when cooked.

Soft Ripened

A classification of cheese based upon body. Brie and Camembert are examples of soft-ripened cheese varieties.


A blend of fresh and aged natural cheeses that have been shredded, mixed, and heated (cooked) with an addition of an emulsifier salt, after which no further ripening occurs.

Are you a cheese nut too? What’s you favourite cheese?