OK. Let’s set some ground rules.
One: the best cheese is from a cheese shop. Or cheese directly from the producer. Or maybe the cheese you bought in a nice farm shop or a deli that one time or, remember that holiday when we stayed in the foothills of… It doesn’t matter. We’re not interested in that. Today, we’re celebrating the unfashionable, the lowbrow, the unsophisticated. So if you want to argue with my choices in the comments (and by all means, go for it) I don’t want to see arguments in favour of Lincolnshire Poacher or Colston Bassett Stilton or Tunworth or anything else you’ve had lovingly wrapped in wax paper at Paxton & Whitfield because, obviously, those are all preposterously delicious cheeses. They have nothing to prove. I’m only interested in the processed and/or cheap; the should be crap but somehow isn’t.
Two: I will never use the term ‘mouth feel’ and I expect you to hold yourself to the same standards while at this website. If the word ‘texture’ isn’t enough for you, discuss your cheeses elsewhere.
So here we go then. Enjoy this list of three lowbrow cheeses (in no particular order) and why they are, err, you know, pretty great, actually.
Dairylea Cheese Spread
If you are British, you don’t need me to tell you what Dairylea Cheese Spread tastes like. You have been eating it since you were a toddler and if you stopped eating it, you only stopped because you are a coward. I feel sorry for you, desperate to look cool at all times, obsessed with what other people think. Imagine being terrified to eat Dairylea Cheese Spread in public because Jay Rayner might see you and do a frown. That’s no way to live. For all you know, Jay Rayner might even like cheese spread. He might take pleasure in putting a Dairylea Triangle between two water biscuits and then squeezing them together, softly but firmly, until the cheese oozes out of the little holes in the cracker. Why not? Seems pretty normal and sensual to me.
Tasting notes: Good flavour, squidgy to soft, with a tangy, almost sloppy mouth feel. 10/10
Pointlessly wrapped in wax and plastic, (though with a bit of tightly wound loo roll for a wick you can turn the wax into a candle that fits neatly into a beer bottle cap) Mini Babybels are almost spiritually bland. That sounds like an insult but it isn’t. Too small to be tedious, eating a single Mini Babybel could never be described as a boring experience. Not quite.
Bland is derived from the latin blandus, meaning soft and/or smooth, neither of which are negative atributions. They are neutral descriptors. Ask yourself, what is the flavour of a pebble, run perfectly smooth by millions of years sitting in a stream, then washed clean of even its atomic structure, so it becomes a space in the water where a pebble once sat, a gap, a void, a hole in the cosmos, wrapped in wax and then plastic. It tastes like a Mini Babybel. Pretty zen, eh?
Of course, the above is not true of any of the spin-off and novelty flavours of Mini Babybel. All of which taste like bum.
Tasting notes: Like eating a cloud, but chewy, and with a pleasantly creamy mouth feel. 10/10
Castello Taste Hawaii
Described, by its own packaging, as a, “tropical, fruity, crunchy and deliciously smooth cream cheese ring,” the Castello Taste Hawaii revels in its own depravity. A pineapple-flavoured cheese covered in chopped almonds is a mockery of sophistication, a parody of haute cuisine, that is only saved from being the punchline to a million jokes by its absolute refusal to give any credence to tradition. Because make no mistake, Castello Taste Hawaii does not give a fuck.
But by God, it’s good. So good I only buy it at Christmas, as a special treat. And every year I marvel at the fact that it still exists. And I offer a silent thank you to the moms who spent the eighties putting squares of cheese and irregular quadrilaterals of pineapple onto cocktail sticks and then stabbing them onto an orange; and to the heroes who ignore the haters and order hawaiian pizzas in restaurants, knowing they are right and the world is wrong; and to the nans who buy Castello Taste Hawaii with their bingo winnings, or when their favourite relatives are visiting because, you know, its a bit fancy, and they’ll love that. Because Castello Taste Hawaii is a bit fancy. And never let ten thousand years of human civilisation try to persuade you otherwise. Good is good is good.
Tasting notes: Classy. The nuts contain a cheese that has a fruity, almost chalky mouth feel. 10/10
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