By Ed Barillas- Staff Writer
Long ago a traveling Arab merchant was transporting milk in the stomach lining of sheep and as he traveled, the heat from the sun activated the enzymes in the lining (which is now known as rennin), which separate the whey, and curds and thus the first cheese was created. Although created out of necessity as a food to extend its shelf life since milk is highly perishable, cheese was bound to be created sooner or later and change the culinary world forever.
Although the exact date of the first cheese creation is unknown several records reveal that it was around at least 3500 BC to ancient Sumeria. Others say that it got its origin in Asia then migrated to Europe. With its abundance of fresh pastures and choice cows Italy became the Mecca for as they experimented with different milk sources and herbs mixtures. During the middle ages cheese production was mostly done by monks in European monasteries who studied different methods of aging and curing the cheese and its effects, which lead to the most delicious cheeses around today such as Camembert and Brie.
When the Mayflower landed in what is now known as Cape Cod, cheese was one of the essential foods unloaded and it quickly became a staple diet of the new inhabitants. vast variety of cheeses are made in every country on earth using the milk from a broad variety of animals—including the water buffalo in Italy, reindeer in Scandinavia, the boar in Africa, the mare in Russia, the yak in Tibet and of course our trusted cows, sheep and goats.
Countless people have made cheese, sold cheese, and eaten cheese as a diet staple to accompany almost every dish and these cheeses and others earned their place in the cheese pantheon which has now brought recognition to many towns and nations like many famous wines have.
The root of the English word cheese comes from the Latin caseus, which also gives us the word casein which interestingly enough is the milk protein that is the basis of cheese. In Old English, caseus became chese in Middle English, finally becoming cheese in Modern English and caseus is also the root word for cheese in other languages, including queso in Spanish, käse in German, and queijo in Portuguese. Caseus Formatus, or molded (formed) cheese, gives us formaticum, the term which the Romans used for the hard cheese used as a food supply for the legionaries and from this root comes the French fromage and the Italian formaggio.
Ancient Greeks and Romans were really the first to turn cheese making into a fine art as the had larger Roman houses with a special kitchen, called a careale, just for the processing of cheese and after developing new techniques for smoking and adding other flavors into cheeses, the Romans spread this knowledge throughout their empire.
According to the British Cheese Board, Great Britain has around 700 distinct local cheeses and it is believed that Italy and France have perhaps 400 varieties each with varying flavors, colors, and textures of cheese coming from many factors, including the type of milk used, the type of bacteria or acids used to separate the milk, the length of aging, and the addition of other flavorings or mold.
And as for the nutritional value of cheese well lets say it is loaded with lots of :
VITAMIN B 6 VITAMIN B 12 PANTOTHENIC ACID
With over 2000 types of cheese worldwide, cheese is one of the most versatile and dependable foods in the world. To date around one third of the milk produced in the U.S. each year is used in the manufacturing of cheese. Since it does come from milk, cheese contains a concentrated amount of almost all of the valuable nutrients found in milk.