Hi, Mike Shorthorn here for the Wisconsin Cheese Congress.
I don’t believe it’s much of an overstatement to say the international cheese wars are heating up to near fondue levels. You may have read that the European Union has nailed an edict to the old barn door declaring that Wisconsin cheesemakers must desist and refrain from using the appellations parmesan, gouda, ardsallagh (hard, soft or smoked) asiago d’allevo or pressato, Bavarian or Bavarian -style Bergkase, any and all cheeses with the word brie or bleu in it, marscapone, even Australian, and nearly 400 others to designate any ripened pressed curd product not made strictly within the named village, shtetl, region, province, Provence and/or Landkreise. This even includes Gorgonzola, it may surprise you to know–apparently there is a place called Gorgonzola nestled somewhere in the EU, although it may, in a more literal sense, refer to a zola from gorgan. It’s Italian, anyway, and no business of the French, and, bien sur, the French are behind this. Cheese purete is not the kind of thing the French are going to leave to Stilton or cașcaval-eaters; no sir, cette fromage has French written all over it. And all so unnecessary: who around here is going to make a nice Pouligny-Saint-Pierre and not just call it what it is: goat cheese–or come up with ripely pungent Reblochon de Savoie and claim it just this morning descended the Alps?
Europeans, in fact, are relative latecomers to cheese making, which, after all , was pictured on 4,000 year-old Egyptian tombs and on 5,000 year-old Yan empire vases. It wasn’t until the Roman Empire, to its credit, made the known world safe for the consumption of ripened pressed curd that Europe even became a player. The appearance of cheese in key roles in both Greek and Nordic mythology makes it clear that no one age nor people possess the cheese birthright. Here in Wisconsin we have been America’s Dairyland at least since the1831 Koshkonong cheese works; by the mid 1840’s New Glarus was awash in Ohio cows and Swiss dairymen–and you know what that leads to. To paraphrase the late great Walter Brennan: no brag, just cheese. We do not rest on our Old World Laurels here, but innovate with a strong sense of tradition. Consequently, it is with a heavy heart that we must respond to the EU’s non-competitive clauses re: dairy products (funny they don’t seem to have a problem with Brussels sprouts and Belgian endive) with our own fair trade restrictions.
Effective immediately, we enjoin all European use or reproduction of Velveeta, Kaukauna Klub Cheese, in crock or out, cheese curds, both fresh and deep fried, brick cheese, whether brick shaped or not, “Swiss” or, in fact, New Glarus Cheese, farmer cheese (particularly when you know the farmer), hoop cheese, Munster cheese (which lacks the ‘e’ of the French valley) Colby (the one near Abbotsford) Cheese (Colby, btw, is what happens when you don’t cheddar Cheddar), Liederkranz, a heads-up version of old world Limburger, Brunost, found wherever you find Norwegians, and you sure do, Cheese Whiz, Easy Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, and Kraft Singles. Oh, and string cheese which some will claim is mozzarella. Couldn’t be further from the truth; try and peel mozzarella.
The Wisconsin Cheese Congress takes these actions mindfully and with regret, in the hope that soon both sides will come to an understanding that while we all have tremendous pride in heritage, ethnicity and form of governance, we also have a shared heritage in the cheese which should press us together. Once we reaffirm this we can abandon limits and restrictions on all dairy products, processed and -un, globally. Because those of us everywhere in ripened pressed curd product know that, in the final end, we are all one under cheeses.