Who Cut The Cheese?
Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 10, 2008
When I wrote Beer & Food: An American History, it was scribed with a bit of nationalistic pride behind it. I,
for one, am tired of reading about sour Belgian beers brewed in “quaint” farm barns, the brewers careful not to disturb the cob webs that hang from the barn’s rafters. I like American beers and think that our brewers can duplicate and even supercede the stuff coming over from overseas.
Me? I’m a guy who wants a little assurance in my food and drink, hopefully that a beer—and maybe a nice cheese to pair with it—won’t have me spending the next day on the shitter or in a hospital being pumped full of antibiotics and saline solution. While I’ll admit that we here in the U.S. have problems with e coli recalls on beef and various other problems of food contamination, I’ll bet the bureaucratic FDA up against any foreign entity that’s supposed to do the same thing.
Remember back in 1985 when wine distributors in Austria were adulterating their wines with diethylene glycol? Earlier this year, the Italian weekly L’Espresso said that Italy produced and sold at least 70 million litres of cheap wine containing acid, manure and fertiliser, largely blaming organised crime in the south.
It said bottles sold at less than two euros (around three dollars) a litre contained very little wine, and a potentially deadly concoction of water and chemical substances, including hydrochloric acid.
Reports have emerged over the last seven days alleging that a number of arrests have been made in the country related to the production and sale of cheeses that had been mixed with out of date or even rotten products. And while this scandal has been known since July, “…an immediate request was made in July for information to be referred to the food safety and nutrition authorities to withdraw any potentially harmful products from circulation as soon as possible,…the information was still unavailable a month later.”
To make matters worse, Italy has also decided to ignore an EU ban on the country’s exportation of mozzarella cheese. Dairy Reporter notes that “Italian authorities have moved to play down the danger, which has been linked by the Commission to waste disposal problems in the Campania region believed responsible for the contamination of milk used in the cheese.
However, the country’s authorities were given until yesterday evening by the Commission to provide further information on the extent of the outbreak, including information on tainted shipments and any destroyed cheese samples, or face a potential ban on the product.”
So let me extend this theme of enjoying U.S. made beers and enjoying them with U.S. made cheeses.
Better yet, stop by Leeners, owned by Jim Leverentz, a real nice guy who I met at the Ohio Beer Fest a few months ago—and a fellow beer enthusiast—and pick up one of his cheese kits. The next time someone asks, “Who cut the cheese?” you can proudly say, “I did!”