Say Cheese! It’s National Cheese Lover’s Day! (January 20th)

red wine and cheese board in the restaurant


(PCM) According to internet wisdom, there’s National Cheese Day (celebrated on June 4th), and then there’s National Cheese Lover’s Day – that’s today! No one seems really sure why the distinction, but it’s not like you need to twist our arm to celebrate cheese, any day of the year.

Though maybe cheese is so important it deserves multiple holidays. Certainly the people responsible for bringing us this dairy-based deliciousness deserve a special shot-out all their own.

Caseiculture is a fancy word for cheese-making (cheese being derived from coagulated milk protein called casein). Most modern cheese-making is an industrial process, though the last several decades have seen an increase in the popularity of handmade artisanal cheeses.

A fromager is another name for a cheese-maker, or one who sells cheese. Cheese merchants are also called cheesemongers. While your local chain supermarket is sure to stock pre-wrapped American or mundane cheddars (maybe even some port wine or fancy-pants Gouda – check the deli aisle), some gourmet or imported varieties can only be purchased from specialty purveyors. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, all the modern turophile (cheese connoisseur) needs to get the good stuff is a credit card and a clicking finger.

The American Cheese Society (professional cheese advocates) has a number of tips for the home cheese-lover. Cheese is best when served room temperature, for example, and added as late as possible when cooking, to bring out maximum cheesy flavor (a cheese rind, however, can be left to simmer and dissolve when making soup.)

Freshness is also key: keep a sharp eye on expiration dates and buy only as much as you’ll need for a week or so. Cheese should be wrapped in wax or parchment paper in a cool, humid environment, such as the bottom bin of your fridge. Extra stinky cheeses might even call for an airtight container, to keep odors safely separate.

One advantage of shopping in an actual store (as opposed to ordering online) is that they can offer you in-person advice for picking and serving specialty cheeses. Pairing cheese and wine (or cheese and beer!) is considered by some to be an art in and of itself. Fortunately, the internet abounds with professional groups like the ACS and other blogs and social media sites where foodies unite. If you don’t have access to an honest-to-goodness cheesemonger in your area, there’s sure to be a turophile out there who can suggest the perfect match for your Gruyère or Camembert.

Whether you’re into mild mozzarella or radical Roquefort, today is your day to wave your cheese hat high. It’s all about you – happy Cheese Lover’s Day!

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