Gateway Cheese: Parmesan

Gateway Cheese: Parmesan

The Gateway Cheeses™ are the cheeses everyone has heard of, and the ones that will lead you to new cheeses you'll love. They're how I organize and contextualize hundreds of cheeses in The Book of Cheese.  What I’ve learned is that I may know all the technicalities about cheese, but when I go to a party people look at what I’ve brought and ask,

“Is that a Brie?

Or a Cheddar?

This tastes like Swiss.

I hate Blue.”

Those are some of the Gateway Cheeses™.

Each Gateway Cheese™ is a jumping-off point. It’s a cheese with specific flavor and texture associations, and it leads you to a group of cheeses that share these qualities.

Like many other foods (and drinks), however, that group of cheese exists along a spectrum of flavor. There are milder, more approachable examples and stronger, more intense examples. It’s worth noting that, for me, intenseflavor doesn’t imply off-putting or alienating, just bigger and more concentrated. It’s like the difference between a Ruby Red grapefruit and a lemon, or ground chuck and dry-aged sirloin steak. Citrus or beef flavors are gateways into a group, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to like every single member of that group.

A Gateway Cheese™ and its flavor spectrum help you narrow down the options and figure out your preferences. And these preferences are likely to hold true across gateways. You may find that the Mozzarella Gateway leads you to an entire flavor spectrum you love but the Blue Gateway introduces a group of cheeses that, on the intense end of the flavor spectrum, are too much for you. The takeaway: you don’t care for persistent, peppery, fermented flavors in your cheese. That’s good to know, because the flavor spectrum of other gateways may contain persistent, peppery, fermented-tasting cheeses. They’re not Blues, but chances are you won’t care for them, either.

The Gateway Cheeses™ are your point of departure. They’ll introduce you to a larger group, arranged along a spectrum of increasing flavor intensity, so you can confirm what you like, branch out across gateways with confidence, and avoid the cheeses that, for you, just don’t taste good.

The Gateway Cheeses™ are:

   Mozzarella

   Brie

   Havarti

   Taleggio

   Manchego

   Cheddar

   Swiss

   Parmesan

   Blue