The History of Blue Cheese – Spoils and Spores
Blue cheese is a curious concoction. Normally, we’re told to stay away from moldy foods, however, there do seem to be some exceptions, blue cheese being among them. Honestly, I won’t go near the stuff. There are enough delicious cheeses in the world that I don’t feel like I need to resort to chowing down on the cheese that has, in my opinion, gone bad. No matter how much the experts tell me it’s a delicacy. Considering the bacteria in most blue cheeses is the same that gives foot odour its smell…
But I have always questioned one thing: where did blue cheese come from? Did someone purposefully leave their cheese to mold or was it an accident? And regardless, what possessed them to eat it? And how long did they wonder if they were going to die before they realized they were fine? And how did they decide that their lack of illness was a testament to the safety of the cheese and not just a fluke?
I have so many questions.
Love or Wine?
It turns out the history of blue cheese is, surprise surprise, contested. Like many foods in history. The most popular legend speaks of a young man was eating ewe’s milk cheese and bread in a cave (cheeses were often stored in moisture-controlled caves) when he saw a beautiful woman passing by and abandoned his snack in hot pursuit.
We never learn the fate of their relationship. Maybe he wooed her and they ended up married. Maybe he just stalked and harassed her for months. Or perhaps he forgot about her after a few minutes but also forgot about his lunch. What is speculated though is that he returned to the cave months later for whatever reason and found his cheese riddled with Roquefort mold.
Another legend says it was a drunk man who forgot his cheese in the cave and returned months later. Which truly sounds much more likely.
Chances are the discovery may have happened by accident. But different areas of the world all independently began producing blue cheese, so it must have been a pretty common accident. Because it’s been around so long (cheese experts believe it’s been around since ancient times) that no one can really answer the question of why we decided to eat it and how we figured out it wasn’t going to make us sick.
I say us. I still refuse to touch the stuff.
Whatever the history of blue cheese, and no matter how polarizing the issue of being pro or con blue cheese is, it looks like it’s here to stay. So I guess I’d better get used to it.
Where do you stand on the issue? Are you pro or con blue cheese? Let us know in the comments!
And don’t forget to check out the history of hamburgers!