You can roll it, ferment it, dry it and put holes in it.
It can be stinky enough to be banned on public transport, crawling with maggots or hard enough to break your teeth.
Cheese is savored all around the world - even if some of it is an acquired taste.
Casu Marzu (Italy)
That's because it's served with live maggots.
It does have a fan base in Sardinia, where sheep farmers for centuries have made pecorino cheese and left it to rot and attract flies.
When the flies' eggs hatch the transformation takes place and the cheese becomes Casu Marzu.
It's then consumed with relish or perhaps trepidation - it has an aftertaste that lasts for hours.
Gordon Ramsay called it "the most dangerous cheese in the world."
Many locals experience a shock the first time they visit Liu Yang’s shop: they’ve never seen something quite like this before.
Some just pass by, merely peeking in the windows of his tiny, two room workshop.
“I think some people before they come by prepare themselves psychologically,” says Yang. “Maybe they’ll come back, maybe they won’t. We won’t get disappointed because of this. Most Chinese people are not used to cheese culture.”
Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Once again, it is upon us - National Cheese Day, June 4. Admittedly, this is one of those tricky holidays. One wouldn’t want to confuse it with, say, National Cheese Lovers’ Day (January 20), National Cheese Doodle Day (March 5), National Cheese Ball Day (April 17), National Cheese Pizza Day (September 5) or, particularly, International Respect for Chickens Day (May 4), because if there’s anything a chicken hates, it’s being mistaken for a large wheel of Gouda.
Be that as it may, there’s a lot of cheese in the world - hundreds of different kinds, made from the milk of everything from buffalos to yaks - and every last bit of it, to my mind, tastes even better with wine. Well, except for casu marzu, a Sardinian cheese with live cheese-fly larvae in it. I have no idea why anyone in their right mind would eat that, as it could not possibly taste anything other than revolting, no matter how powerful the alcohol was that you poured with it.
Anyway, generally speaking, here are a few thoughts about pairing cheese with wine. Of course, as always with pairing, these are suggestions - there are no rules, other than to eat food you like and drink wine (or whatever else) you like with it.
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Editor's Note: Emiliano Lee is the Artisan Market Manager at Farmshop in Los Angeles, California. He also serves as a judge for the American Cheese Society.
One of, if not the most, frequently asked questions I field on the cheese counter is, "What's your favorite?" To which I almost always reply, "Well, that depends."
What's ripe? What's tasting particularly good at any given moment? What am I in the mood for? What's the weather like? What am I drinking? Ah, yes, the age-old pairing question.
In the end, it really does boil down to personal taste, but there are certainly some combinations that work better than others.
Many people want to pair wine and cheese, and while I can dance to that, I'm personally more of the malt and hops persuasion. For me, beer is a more natural choice, and as many others will attest to, it plays tremendously well with cheese.
Looking at my cheese case right now, here are a five wheels that are tasting particularly nice along with some of their best drinking buddies.