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Celebrate American Cheese (Not the Glowing Orange Kind)

Celebrate American Cheese (Not the Glowing Orange Kind)

For years (my formative years to be exact) my notion, shared with many other consumers, of American cheese were those Kraft American Singles, stacked symmetrically in 64-sliced towers, that always seemed to be at the ready in everyone’s fridge. They were dependable, simple, particularly vibrant, and they seemingly never, ever, went bad (some would argue that they started out bad). They were the populist’s notion of America at its cheesiest.

We have since progressed well beyond this limited definition of American cheese (at least many of us have). Sure those bright orange singles still exist and are bought up at a regular basis, but so are pounds and pounds of other unique and distinctly American cheeses that have expanded our notion of what American cheese could, and should, be.

October marks the 2nd annual American Cheese Month, which is essentially a way to raise awareness for the myriad of domestic cheese styles, and combat the dominant paradigm (Kraft American Singles). Here are a few of my personal favorites (no, I am not being paid to endorse anything, I just like American cheeses):

Grafton Cheddar from Vermont:

Grafton from the cheese kingdom of Vermont does a lot of cheeses, and while all of them are pretty stellar, their Cave-Aged Clothbound Cheddar is really something to seek out. All of their cheeses are made with raw milk from Vermont, which provides a grassy, somewhat pungent, quality.

Marieke:

This is a washed-rind old world Gouda made in Wisconsin and aged quite nicely. It holds a complex array of flavors, which include a hint of sweetness and toffee. This Gouda comes in an assortment of flavors, but I prefer the smoked or plain for their simplicity.

Humboldt Fog:

For those of you not in the know, Humboldt Fog may be the most divine domestically produced cheese available. The cheese, in its whole form, looks like a layer cake (see above pic) but tastes like the most beautiful tangy goat cheese one could hope for.

What are some of your favorite American cheeses? Do you still harbor some affection for the plain American Singles?

Related:
American Cheese & Other Nostalgia Foods
The Enduring Appeal of Grilled Cheese
Cheese: The Most Stolen Food Item

Read more: Appetizers & Snacks, Basics, Blogs, Following Food, Food, Vegetarian, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

20 comments

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9:54AM PDT on May 21, 2013

I've had Humboldt fog before, at a bar in Raleigh, NC called the Flying Saucer. It was really good with apples, crackers, and beer mustard :D

5:54AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

What's the glowing orange kind? GMO cheese?

7:50AM PST on Mar 8, 2013

Thanks for recommendation. Time to introduce my palate to new cheeses.

11:49PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Cheese is a delight, love Canadian cheddar and all sorts of cheese except for the glow in the dark processed stuff that comes in squares...good for construction and shingles on the roof however.

8:45AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

Thank you

2:10PM PST on Nov 13, 2012

I cannot have the American Cheese Singles any ways. As long as the Cheese is 6 months or older for aged (I prefer 8+months) I will be fine. I usually do eat cheese that hasn't been aged just because. Not all aged cheeses are white, some are orange, and others are more yellow. Even naturally.

You have listed three cheese I have never heard of before but now wish to try.

9:59PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

mmmmm cheese... - h. Simpson

7:28PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

Tillamook from Oregon.

5:33PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

I love Gouda (the Baby Bell cheese is a mild form of Gouda), and lets not forget the ultra buttery Havarati, mmmm... By the way, the reason artificially colored cheese is colored to begin with is because pasture grazed cows(organic) give off slightly orange colored milk depending on how much clover is in the field at the time of grazing. So, natural, organic cheese is naturally slightly orange colored and is a mark of good quality milk used to produce the cheese. When your Kraft, why bother? Use rgbh milk and add Yellow dye #5 and Red dye #5 and you get a perversed version orange of the real thing.

9:10AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Thanks

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