Tag Archives: 20th Century

Soufflés, Puffs and Ramekins

More recipes from Bob Brown and his book “The Complete book of Cheese” published in 1955.

Soufflés, Puffs and Ramekins

There isn’t much difference between Cheese Soufflés, Puffs and Ramekins. The English Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery, the oldest, biggest and best of such works in English, lumps Cheese Puffs and Ramekins together, giving the same recipes for both, although it treats each extensively under its own name when not made with cheese.

Cheese was the basis of the original French Ramequin, cheese and bread crumbs or puff paste, baked in a mold, (with puff again the principal factor in Soufflé, from the French souffler, puff up).

Basic Soufflé

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 tablespoons flour
1¼ cups hot milk, scalded
1 teaspoon salt
A dash of cayenne
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese, sharp
2 egg yolks, beaten lemon-yellow
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Melt butter, stir in flour and milk gradually until thick and smooth. Season and add the cheese, continuing the cooking and slow stirring until velvety. Remove from heat and let cool somewhat; then stir in the egg yolks with a light hand and an upward motion. Fold in the stiff whites and when evenly mixed pour into a big, round baking dish. (Some butter it and some don’t.) To make sure the top will be even when baked, run a spoon or knife around the surface, about 1 inch from the edge of the dish, before baking slowly in a moderate oven until puffed high and beautifully browned. Serve instantly for fear the Soufflé may fall. The baking takes up to an hour and the egg whites shouldn’t be beaten so stiff they are hard to fold in and contain no air to expand and puff up the dish.

To perk up the seasonings, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, nutmeg and even garlic are often used to taste, especially in England.

While Cheddar is the preferred cheese, Parmesan runs it a close second. Then comes Swiss. You may use any two or all three of these together. Sometimes Roquefort is added, as in the Ramekin recipes below.

Parmesan Soufflé

Make the same as Basic Soufflé, with these small modifications in the ingredients:

1 full cup of grated Parmesan
1 extra egg in place of the ½ cup of Cheddar cheese
A little more butter
Black pepper, not cayenne

Swiss Soufflé

Make the same as Basic Soufflé, with these slight changes:

1¼ cups grated Swiss cheese instead of the Cheddar cheese
Nutmeg in place of the cayenne

Parmesan-Swiss Soufflé

Make the same as Basic Soufflé, with these little differences:

½ cup grated Swiss cheese, and ½ cup grated Parmesan in place
of the Cheddar cheese
¼ teaspoon each of sugar and black pepper for seasoning.

Any of these makes a light, lovely luncheon or a proper climax to a grand dinner.

Cheese-Corn Soufflé

Make as Basic Soufflé, substituting for the scalded milk 1 cup of sieved and strained juice from cream-style canned corn.

Cheese-Spinach Soufflé

Sauté 1½ cups of finely chopped, drained spinach in butter with 1 teaspoon finely grated onion, and then whip it until light and fluffy. Mix well into the white sauce of the Basic Soufflé before adding the cheese and following the rest of the recipe.

picture: pointer Cheese-Tomato Soufflé

Substitute hot tomato juice for the scalded milk.

Cheese-Sea-food Soufflé

Add 1½ cups finely chopped or ground lobster, crab, shrimp, other sea food or mixture thereof, with any preferred seasoning added.

Cheese-Mushroom Soufflé

1½ cups grated sharp Cheddar
1 cup cream of mushroom soup
Paprika, to taste
2 egg yolks, well beaten
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
2 tablespoons chopped, cooked bacon
2 tablespoons sliced, blanched almonds

Heat cheese with soup and paprika, adding the cheese gradually and stirring until smooth. Add salt and thicken the sauce with egg yolks, still stirring steadily, and finally fold in the whites. Sprinkle with bacon and almonds and bake until golden brown and puffed high (about 1 hour).

Cheese-Potato Soufflé (Potato Puff)

6 potatoes
2 onions
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup hot milk
¾ cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
A dash of pepper
2 egg yolks, well beaten
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
¼ cup grated Cheddar cheese

Cook potatoes and onions together until tender and put through a ricer. Mix with all the other ingredients except the egg whites and the Cheddar. Fold in the egg whites, mix thoroughly and pour into a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of Cheddar on top and bake in moderate oven about ½ hour, until golden-brown and well puffed. Serve instantly.

Variations of this popular Soufflé leave out the onion and simplify matters by using 2 cups of mashed potatoes. Sometimes 1 tablespoon of catsup and another of minced parsley is added to the mixture. Or onion juice alone, to take the place of the cooked onions—about a tablespoon, full or scant.

The English, in concocting such a Potato Puff or Soufflé, are inclined to make it extra peppery, as they do most of their Cheese Soufflés, with not only “a dust of black pepper” but “as much cayenne as may be stood on the face of a sixpence.”

Cheese Fritter Soufflés

These combine ham with Parmesan cheese and are even more delicately handled in the making than crêpes suzette.

Three-in-One Puffs

1 cup grated Swiss
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup cream cheese
5 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper

Mix the cheeses into one mass moistened with the beaten eggs, splashed on at intervals. When thoroughly incorporated, put in ramekins, tiny tins, cups, or any sort of little mold of any shape. Bake in hot oven about 10 minutes, until richly browned.

Such miniature Soufflés serve as liaison officers for this entire section, since they are baked in ramekins, or ramequins, from the French word for the small baking dish that holds only one portion. These may be paper boxes, usually round, earthenware, china, Pyrex, of any attractive shape in which to bake or serve the Puffs.

More commonly, in America at least, Puffs are made without ramekin dishes, as follows:

Fried Puffs

2 egg whites, beaten stiff
½ cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon flour

Into the stiff egg whites fold the cheese, flour and seasonings. When thoroughly mixed pat into shape desired, roll in crumbs and fry.

Roquefort Puffs

⅛ pound genuine French Roquefort
1 egg white, beaten stiff
8 crackers or 2-inch bread rounds

Cream the Roquefort, fold in the egg white, pile on crackers and bake 15 minutes in slow oven.

The constant repetition of “beaten stiff” in these recipes may give the impression that the whites are badly beaten up, but such is not the case. They are simply whipped to peaks and left moist and glistening as a teardrop, with a slight sad droop to them that shows there is still room for the air to expand and puff things up in cooking.

Parmesan Puffs

Make a spread of mayonnaise or other salad dressing with equal parts of imported Parmesan, grated fine. Spread on a score or more of crackers in a roomy pan and broil a couple of minutes till they puff up golden-brown.

Use only the best Parmesan, imported from Italy; or, second best, from Argentina where the rich pampas grass and Italian settlers get together on excellent Parmesan and Romano. Never buy Parmesan already grated; it quickly loses its flavor.

Breakfast Puffs

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
¼ cup finely grated cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt

Mix all together to a smooth, light batter and fill ramekins or cups half full; then bake in quick oven until they are puffing over the top and golden-brown.

Danish Fondue Puffs

1 stale roll
½ cup boiling hot milk
2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
4 egg yolks, beaten lemon-yellow
4 egg whites, beaten stiff

Soak roll in boiling milk and beat to a paste. Mix with cheese and egg yolks. When smooth and thickened fold in the egg whites and fill ramekins, tins, cups or paper forms and slowly bake until puffed up and golden-brown.

New England Cheese Puffs

1 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
2 egg yolks, beaten lemon-yellow
½ cup milk
1 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
2 egg whites, beaten stiff but not dry

Sift dry ingredients together, mix yolks with milk and stir in. Add cheese and when thoroughly incorporated fold in the egg whites to make a smooth batter. Drop from a big spoon into hot deep fat and cook until well browned.

Caraway seeds are sometimes added. Poppy seeds are also used, and either of these makes a snappier puff, especially tasty when served with soup.

A few drops of tabasco give this an extra tang.

Cream Cheese Puffs

½ pound cream cheese
1 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard

Soften cheese by heating over hot water. Remove from heat and add milk, eggs and seasoning. Beat until well blended, then pour into custard cups, ramekins or any other individual baking dishes that are attractive enough to serve the puffs in.

Some Ramekin dishes are made so exquisitely that they may be collected like snuff bottles.

Ramekins are utterly French, both the cooked Puffs and the individual dishes in which they are baked. Essentially a Cheese Puff, this is also au gratin when topped with both cheese and browned bread crumbs. By a sort of poetic cook’s license the name is also applied to any kind of cake containing cheese and cooked in the identifying one-portion ramekin. It is used chiefly in the plural, however, together with the name of the chief ingredient, such as “Chicken Ramekins” and:

Cheese Ramekins I

2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
⅛ pound butter, melted
⅛ pound grated cheese

Mix well and bake in individual molds for 15 minutes.

Cheese Ramekins II

3 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon each, salt and pepper
¾ cup bread crumbs
½ cup grated cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups milk

Mix the first four dry ingredients together, stir eggs into the milk and add. Stir to a smooth batter and bake in buttered ramekins, standing in water, in moderate oven. Serve piping hot, for like Soufflés and all associated Puffs, the hot air will puff out of them quickly; then they will sink and be inedible.

Cheese Ramekins III

Grate ½ pound of any dry, rich cheese. Butter a dozen small paper cases, or little boxes of stiff writing paper like Soufflé cases. Put a saucepan containing ½ pint of water over the fire, add 2 tablespoons of butter, and when the water boils, stir in 1 heaping tablespoonful of flour. Beat the mixture until it shrinks away from the sides of the saucepan; then stir in the grated cheese. Remove the paste thus made from the fire, and let it partly cool. In the meantime separate the yolks from the whites of three eggs, and beat them until the yolks foam and the whites make a stiff froth. Put the mixture at once into the buttered paper cases, only half-filling them (since they rise very high while being baked) with small slices of cheese, and bake in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes. As soon as the Puffs are done, put the cases on a hot dish covered with a folded napkin, and serve very hot.

The most popular cheese for Ramekins has always been, and still is, Gruyère. But because the early English also adopted Italian Parmesan, that followed as a close second, and remains there today.

Sharp Cheddar makes tangy Ramekins, as will be seen in this second oldster; for though it prescribes Gloucester and Cheshire “‘arf-and-‘arf,” both are essentially Cheddars. Gloucester has been called “a glorified Cheshire” and the latter has long been known as a peculiarly rich and colorful elder brother of Cheddar, described in Kenelme Digby’s Closet Open’d as a “quick, fat, rich, well-tasted cheese.”

Cheese Ramekins IV

Scrape fine ¼ pound of Gloucester cheese and ¼ pound of Cheshire cheese. Beat this scraped cheese in a mortar with the yolks of 4 eggs, ¼ pound of fresh butter, and the crumbs of a French roll boiled in cream until soft. When all this is well mixed and pounded to a paste, add the beaten whites of 4 eggs. Should the paste seem too stiff, 1 or 2 tablespoons of sherry may be added. Put the paste into paper cases, and bake in a Dutch oven till nicely browned. The Ramekins should be served very hot.

Since both Gloucester cheese and Cheshire cheese are not easily come by even in London today, it would be hard to reproduce this in the States. So the best we can suggest is to use half-and-half of two of our own great Cheddars, say half-Coon and half-Wisconsin Longhorn, or half-Tillamook and half-Herkimer County. For there’s no doubt about it, contrasting cheeses tickle the taste buds, and as many as three different kinds put together make Puffs all the more perfect.

Ramequins à la Parisienne

2 cups milk
1 cup cream
1 ounce salt butter
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup grated Gruyère
Coarsely ground pepper
An atom of nutmeg
A soupçon of garlic
A light touch of powdered sugar
8 eggs, separated

Boil milk and cream together. Melt butter, mix in the flour and stir over heat 5 minutes, adding the milk and cream mixture a little at a time. When thoroughly cooked, remove from heat and stir in cheese, seasonings and the yolks of all 8 eggs, well beaten, and the whites of 2 even better beaten. When well mixed, fold in the remaining egg whites, stiffly beaten, until you have a batter as smooth and thick as cream. Pour this into ramekins of paper, porcelain or earthenware, filling each about ⅔ full to allow for them to puff up as they bake in a very slow oven until golden-brown (or a little less than 20 minutes).

picture: pointer Le Ramequin Morézien

This celebrated specialty of Franche-Comté is described as “a porridge of water, butter, seasoning, chopped garlic and toast; thickened with minced Gruyère and served very hot.”

Several French provinces are known for distinctive individual Puffs usually served in the dainty fluted forms they are cooked in. In Jeanne d’Arc’s Lorraine, for instance, there are the simply named Les Ramequins, made of flour, Gruyère and eggs.

Swiss-Roquefort Ramekins

¼ pound Swiss cheese
¼ pound Roquefort cheese
½ pound butter
8 eggs, separated
4 breakfast rolls, crusts removed
½ cup cream

The batter is made in the usual way, with the soft insides of the rolls simmered in the cream and stirred in. The egg whites are folded in last, as always, the batter poured into ramekins part full and baked to a golden-brown. Then they are served instantaneously, lest they fall.

Puff Paste Ramekins

Puff or other pastry is rolled out fiat and sprinkled with fine tasty cheese or any cheese mixture, such as Parmesan with Gruyère and/or Swiss Sapsago for a piquant change, but in lesser quantity than the other cheeses used. Parmesan cheese has long been the favorite for these.

Fold paste into 3 layers, roll out again and dust with more cheese. Fold once more and roll this out and cut in small fancy shapes to bake 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven. Brushing with egg yolk before baking makes these Ramekins shine.

Frying Pan Ramekins

Melt 2 ounces of butter, let it cool a little and then mix with ½ pound of cheese. Fold in the whites of 3 eggs, beaten stiff but not dry. Cover frying pan with buttered papers, put slices of bread on this and cover with the cheese mixture. Cook about 5 minutes, take it off and brown it with a salamander.

There are two schools of salamandering among turophiles. One holds that it toughens the cheese and makes it less digestible; the other that it’s simply swell. Some of the latter addicts have special cheese-branding irons made with their monograms, to identify their creations, whether they be burned on the skins of Welsh Rabbits or Frying Pan Ramekins. Salamandering with an iron that has a gay, carnivalesque design can make a sort of harlequin Ramekin.

Casserole Ramekin

Here is the Americanization of a French original: In a deep casserole lay alternate slices of white bread and Swiss cheese, with the cheese slices a bit bigger all around. Beat 2 eggs with 2 cups of milk, season with salt and—of all things—nutmeg! Proceed to bake like individual Ramekins.

The Fondue

More recipes from Bob Brown’s “The Complete Book of Cheese”… this time Fondue.

There is a conspiracy among the dictionary makers to take the heart out of the Fondue. Webster makes it seem no better than a collapsed soufflé, with his definition:

Fondue. Also, erroneously, fondu. A dish made of melted cheese, butter, eggs, and, often, milk and bread crumbs.

Thorndike-Barnhart further demotes this dish, that for centuries has been one of the world’s greatest, to “a combination of melted cheese, eggs and butter” and explains that the name comes from the French fondre, meaning melt. The latest snub is delivered by the up-to-date Cook’s Quiz compiled by TV culinary experts:

A baked dish with eggs, cheese, butter, milk and bread crumbs.

A baked dish, indeed! Yet the Fondue has added to the gaiety and inebriety of nations, if not of dictionaries. It has commanded the respect of the culinary great. Savarin, Boulestin, André Simon, all have hailed its heavenly consistency, all have been regaled with its creamy, nay velvety, smoothness.

A touch of garlic, a dash of kirsch, fresh ground black pepper, nutmeg, black pearl truffles of Bugey, red cayenne pepper, the luscious gravy of roast turkey—such little matters help to make an authentic dunking Fondue, not a baked Fondue, mind you. Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin a century and a half ago brought the original “receipt” with him and spread it around with characteristic generosity during the two years of his exile in New York after the French Revolution. In his monumental Physiologie du Goût he records an incident that occurred in 1795:

Whilst passing through Boston … I taught the restaurant-keeper Julien to make a Fondue, or eggs cooked with cheese. This dish, a novelty to the Americans, became so much the rage, that he (Julien) felt himself obliged, by way of thanks, to send me to New York the rump of one of those pretty little roebucks that are brought from Canada in winter, and which was declared exquisite by the chosen committee whom I convoked for the occasion.

As the great French gourmet, Savarin was born on the Swiss border (at Belley, in the fertile Province of Bugey, where Gertrude Stein later had a summer home), he no doubt ate Gruyère three times a day, as is the custom in Switzerland and adjacent parts. He sets down the recipe just as he got it from its Swiss source, the papers of Monsieur Trolliet, in the neighboring Canton of Berne:

Take as many eggs as you wish to use, according to the number of your guests. Then take a lump of good Gruyère cheese, weighing about a third of the eggs, and a nut of butter about half the weight of the cheese. (Since today’s eggs in America weigh about 1½ ounces apiece, if you start the Fondue with 8. your lump of good Gruyère would come to ¼ pound and your butter to ⅛ pound.)

Break and beat the eggs well in a flat pan, then add the butter and the cheese, grated or cut in small pieces.

Place the pan on a good fire and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is fairly thick and soft; put in a little or no salt, according to the age of the cheese, and a good deal of pepper, for this is one of the special attributes of this ancient dish.

Let it be placed on the table in a hot dish, and if some of the best wines be produced, and the bottle passed quite freely, a marvelous effect will be beheld.

This has long been quoted as the proper way to make the national dish of Switzerland. Savarin tells of hearing oldsters in his district laugh over the Bishop of Belley eating his Fondue with a spoon instead of the traditional fork, in the first decade of the 1700’s. He tells, too, of a Fondue party he threw for a couple of his septuagenarian cousins in Paris “about the year 1801.”

The party was the result of much friendly taunting of the master: “By Jove, Jean, you have been bragging for such a long time about your Fondues, you have continually made our mouths water. It is high time to put a stop to all this. We will come and breakfast with you some day and see what sort of thing this dish is.”

Savarin invited them for ten o’clock next day, started them off with the table laid on a “snow white cloth, and in each one’s place two dozen oysters with a bright golden lemon. At each end of the table stood a bottle of sauterne, carefully wiped, excepting the cork, which showed distinctly that it had been in the cellar for a long while…. After the oysters, which were quite fresh, came some broiled kidneys, a terrine of foie gras, a pie with truffles, and finally the Fondue. The different ingredients had all been assembled in a stewpan, which was placed on the table over a chafing dish, heated with spirits of wine.

“Then,” Savarin is quoted, “I commenced operations on the field of battle, and my cousins did not lose a single one of my movements. They were loud in the praise of this preparation, and asked me to let them have the receipt, which I promised them….”

This Fondue breakfast party that gave the nineteenth century such a good start was polished off with “fruits in season and sweets, a cup of genuine mocha, … and finally two sorts of liqueurs, one a spirit for cleansing, and the other an oil for softening.”

This primitive Swiss Cheese Fondue is now prepared more elaborately in what is called:

Neufchâtel Style

2½ cups grated imported Swiss
1½ tablespoons flour
1 clove of garlic
1 cup dry white wine
Crusty French “flute” or hard rolls cut into big mouthfuls, handy
for dunking
1 jigger kirsch

The cheese should be shredded or grated coarsely and mixed well with the flour. Use a chafing dish for cooking and a small heated casserole for serving. Hub the bottom and sides of the blazer well with garlic, pour in the wine and heat to bubbling, just under boiling. Add cheese slowly, half a cup at a time, and stir steadily in one direction only, as in making Welsh Rabbit. Use a silver fork. Season with very little salt, always depending on how salty the cheese is, but use plenty of black pepper, freshly ground, and a touch of nutmeg. Then pour in the kirsch, stir steadily and invite guests to dunk their forked bread in the dish or in a smaller preheated casserole over a low electric or alcohol burner on the dining table. The trick is to keep the bubbling melted cheese in rhythmic motion with the fork, both up and down and around and around.

The dunkers stab the hunks of crusty French bread through the soft part to secure a firm hold in the crust, for if your bread comes off in dunking you pay a forfeit, often a bottle of wine.

The dunking is done as rhythmically as the stirring, guests taking regular turns at twirling the fork to keep the cheese swirling. When this “chafing dish cheese custard,” as it has been called in England, is ready for eating, each in turn thrusts in his fork, sops up a mouthful with the bread for a sponge and gives the Fondue a final stir, to keep it always moving in the same direction. All the while the heat beneath the dish keeps it gently bubbling.

Such a Neufchâtel party was a favorite of King Edward VII, especially when he was stepping out as the Prince of Wales. He was as fond of Fondue as most of the great gourmets of his day and preferred it to Welsh Rabbit, perhaps because of the wine and kirsch that went into it.

At such a party a little heated wine is added if the Fondue gets too thick. When finally it has cooked down to a crust in the bottom of the dish, this is forked out by the host and divided among the guests as a very special dividend.

Any dry white wine will serve in a pinch, and the Switzerland Cheese Association, in broadcasting this classical recipe, points out that any dry rum, slivovitz, or brandy, including applejack, will be a valid substitute for the kirsch. To us, applejack seems specially suited, when we stop to consider our native taste that has married apple pie to cheese since pioneer times.

In culinary usage fondue means “melting to an edible consistency” and this, of course, doesn’t refer to cheese alone, although we use it chiefly for that.

In France Fondue is also the common name for a simple dish of eggs scrambled with grated cheese and butter and served very hot on toasted bread, or filled into fancy paper cases, quickly browned on top and served at once. The reason for this is that all baked Fondues fall as easily and as far as Soufflés, although the latter are more noted for this failing. There is a similarity in the soft fluffiness of both, although the Fondues are always more moist. For there is a stiff, stuffed-shirt buildup around any Soufflé, suggesting a dressy dinner, while Fondue started as a self-service dunking bowl.

Our modern tendency is to try to make over the original French Fondue on the Welsh Rabbit model—to turn it into a sort of French Rabbit. Although we know that both Gruyère and Emmentaler are what we call Swiss and that it is impossible in America to duplicate the rich Alpine flavor given by the mountain herbs, we are inclined to try all sorts of domestic cheeses and mixtures thereof. But it’s best to stick to Savarin’s “lump of Gruyère” just as the neighboring French and Italians do. It is interesting to note that this Swiss Alpine cooking has become so international that it is credited to Italy in the following description we reprint from When Madame Cooks, by an Englishman, Eric Weir:

Fondue à l’Italienne

This is one of those egg dishes that makes one feel really grateful to hens. From its name it originated probably in Italy, but it has crossed the Alps. I have often met it in France, but only once in Italy.

First of all, make a very stiff white sauce with butter, flour and milk. The sauce should be stiff enough to allow the wooden spoon to stand upright or almost.

Off the fire, add yolks of eggs and 4 ounces of grated Gruyère cheese. Mix this in well with the white sauce and season with salt, pepper and some grated nutmeg. Beat whites of egg firm. Add the whites to the preparation, stir in, and pour into a pudding basin.

Take a large saucepan and fill half full of water. Bring to a boil, and then place the pudding basin so that the top of the basin is well out of the water. Allow to boil gently for 1½ to 2 hours. Renew the boiling water from time to time, as it evaporates, and take care that the water, in boiling, does not bubble over the mixture.

Test with a knife, as for a cake, to see if it is cooked. When the knife comes out clean, take the basin out of the water and turn the Fondue out on a dish. It should be fairly firm and keep the shape of the basin.

Sprinkle with some finely chopped ham and serve hot.

The imported Swiss sometimes is cubed instead of grated, then marinated for four or five hours in dry white wine, before being melted and liquored with the schnapps. This can be pleasantly adopted here in:

All-American Fondue

1 pound imported Swiss cheese, cubed
¾ cup scuppernong or other American white wine
1½ jiggers applejack

After marinating the Swiss cubes in the wine, simply melt together over hot water, stir until soft and creamy, add the applejack and dunk with fingers of toast or your own to a chorus of “All Bound Round with a Woolen String.”

Of course, this can be treated as a mere vinous Welsh Rabbit and poured over toast, to be accompanied by beer. But wine is the thing, for the French Fondue is to dry wine what the Rabbit is to stale ale or fresh beer.

We say French instead of Swiss because the French took over the dish so eagerly, together with the great Gruyère that makes it distinctive. They internationalized it, sent it around the world with bouillabaisse and onion soup, that celestial soupe à l’oignon on which snowy showers of grated Gruyère descend.

To put the Welsh Rabbit in its place they called it Fondue à l’Anglaise, which also points up the twinlike relationship of the world’s two favorite dishes of melted cheese. But to differentiate and show they are not identical twins, the No. 1 dish remained Fromage Fondue while the second was baptized Fromage Fondue à la Bière.

Beginning with Savarin the French whisked up more rapturous, rhapsodic writing about Gruyère and its offspring, the Fondue, together with the puffed Soufflé, than about any other imported cheese except Parmesan.

Parmesan and Gruyère were praised as the two greatest culinary cheeses. A variant Fondue was made of the Italian cheese.

Parmesan Fondue

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Over boiling water melt butter and cheese slowly, stir in the eggs, season to taste and stir steadily in one direction only, until smooth.

Pour over fingers of buttered toast. Or spoon it up, as the ancients did, before there were any forks. It’s beaten with a fork but eaten catch-as-catch-can, like chicken-in-the-rough.

Sapsago Swiss Fondue

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups milk
2½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
2½ tablespoons grated Sapsago
½ cup dry white wine
Pepper, black and red, freshly ground
Fingers of toast

Over boiling water stir the first four ingredients into a smooth, fairly thick cream sauce. Then stir in Swiss cheese until well melted. After that add the Sapsago, finely grated, and wine in small splashes. Stir steadily, in one direction only, until velvety. Season sharply with the contrasting peppers and serve over fingers of toast.

This is also nice when served bubbling in individual, preheated pastry shells, casseroles or ramekins, although this way most of the fun of the dunking party is left out. To make up for it, however, cooked slices of mushrooms are sometimes added.

At the Cheese Cellar in the New York World’s Fair Swiss Pavilion, where a continual dunking party was in progress, thousands of amateurs learned such basic things as not to overcook the Fondue lest it become stringy, and the protocol of dunking in turn and keeping the mass in continual motion until the next on the Fondue line dips in his cube of bread. The success of the dish depends on making it quickly, keeping it gently a-bubble and never letting it stand still for a split second.

The Swiss, who consume three or four times as much cheese per capita as we, and almost twice as much as the French, are willing to share Fondue honors with the French Alpine province of Savoy, a natural cheese cellar with almost two dozen distinctive types of its very own, such as Fat cheese, also called Death’s Head; La Grande Bornand, a luscious half-dried sheep’s milker; Chevrotins, small, dry goat milk cheeses; and Le Vacherin. The latter, made in both Savoy and Switzerland, boasts two interesting variants:

1. Vacherin Fondue or Spiced Fondue: Made about the same as Emmentaler, ripened to sharp age, and then melted, spices added and the cheese re-formed. It is also called Spiced Fondue and sells for about two dollars a pound. Named Fondue from being melted, though it’s really recooked,

2. Vacherin à la Main: This is a curiosity in cheeses, resembling a cold, uncooked Fondue. Made of cow’s milk, it is round, a foot in diameter and half a foot high. It is salted and aged until the rind is hard and the inside more runny than the ripest Camembert, so it can be eaten with a spoon (like the cooked Fondue) as well as spread on bread. The local name for it is Tome de Montagne.

Here is a good assortment of Fondues:

Vacherin-Fribourg Fondue

2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups shredded Vacherin cheese
2 tablespoons hot water

This authentic quickie is started by cooking the garlic in butter until the butter is melted. Then remove garlic and reduce heat. Add the soft cheese and stir with silver fork until smooth and velvety. Add the water in little splashes, stirring constantly in one direction. Dunk! (In this melted Swiss a little water takes the place of a lot of wine.)

La Fondue Comtois

This regional specialty of Franche-Comté is made with white wine. Sauterne, Chablis, Riesling or any Rhenish type will serve splendidly. Also use butter, grated Gruyère, beaten eggs and that touch of garlic.

Chives Fondue

3 cups grated Swiss cheese
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
¼ cup kirsch

Mix cheese and flour. Melt butter in chafing-dish blazer rubbed with garlic. Cook chives in butter 1 minute. Add wine and heat just under boiling. Keep simmering as you add cheese-and-flour mix gradually, stirring always in one direction. Salt according to age and sharpness of cheese; add plenty of freshly ground pepper and the pinch of nutmeg.

When everything is stirred smooth and bubbling, toss in the kirsch without missing a stroke of the fork and get to dunking.

Large, crisp, hot potato chips make a pleasant change for dunking purposes. Or try assorted crackers alternating with the absorbent bread, or hard rolls.

Tomato Fondue

2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
½ teaspoon dried sweet basil
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

Mix basil with chopped tomatoes. Rub chafing dish with garlic, melt butter, add tomatoes and much paprika. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, add wine, stir steadily to boiling point. Then add cheese, half a cup at a time, and keep stirring until everything is smooth.

Serve on hot toast, like Welsh Rabbit.

Here the two most popular melted-cheese dishes tangle, but they’re held together with the common ingredient, tomato.

Fondue also appears as a sauce to pour over baked tomatoes. Stale bread crumbs are soaked in tomato juice to make:

Tomato Baked Fondue

1 cup tomato juice
1 cup stale bread crumbs
1 cup grated sharp American cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
4 eggs, separated and well beaten

Soak crumbs in tomato juice, stir cheese in butter until melted, season with a little or no salt, depending on saltiness of the cheese. Mix in the beaten yolks, fold in the white and bake about 50 minutes in moderate oven.

Although Savarin’s dunking Fondue was first to make a sensation on these shores and is still in highest esteem among epicures, the Fondue America took to its bosom was baked. The original recipe came from the super-caseous province of Savoy under the explicit title, La Fondue au Fromage.

La Fondue au Fromage

Make the usual creamy mixture of butter, flour, milk, yolks of eggs and Gruyère, in thin slices for a change. Use red pepper instead of black, splash in a jigger of kirsch but no white wine. Finally fold in the egg whites and bake in a mold for 45 minutes.

We adapted this to our national taste which had already based the whole business of melted cheese on the Welsh Rabbit with stale ale or milk instead of white wine and Worcestershire, mustard and hot peppers. Today we have come up with this:

picture: pointer 100% American Fondue

2 cups scalded milk
2 cups stale bread crumbs
½ teaspoon dry English mustard
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of pepper
2 cups American cheese (Cheddar)
2 egg yolks, well beaten
2 egg whites, beaten stiff

Soak crumbs in milk, season and stir in the cheese until melted. Add the beaten egg yolks and stir until you have a smooth mixture. Let this cool while beating the whites stiff, leaving them slightly moist. Fold the whites into the cool, custardy mix and bake in a buttered dish until firm. (About 50 minutes in a moderate oven.)

This is more of a baked cheese job than a true Fondue, to our way of thinking, and the scalded milk doesn’t exactly take the place of the wine or kirsch. It is characteristic of our bland cookery.

Quickie Catsup Tummy Fondiddy

¾ pound sharp cheese, diced
1 can condensed tomato soup
½ cup catsup
½ teaspoon mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten

In double boiler melt cheese in soup. Blend thoroughly by constant stirring. Remove from heat, lightly whip or fold in the catsup and mustard mixed with egg. Serve on Melba toast or rusks.

This might be suggested as a novel midnight snack, with a cup of cocoa, for a change.

Cheese and Rice Fondue

1 cup cooked rice
2 cups milk
4 eggs, separated and well beaten
½ cup grated cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Cayenne, Worcestershire sauce or tabasco sauce, or all three

Heat rice (instead of bread crumbs) in milk, stir in cheese until melted, add egg yolks beaten lemon-yellow, season, fold in stiff egg whites. Serve hot on toast.

Corn and Cheese Fondue

1 cup bread crumbs
1 large can creamed corn
1 small onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
2 cups cottage cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 eggs, well beaten

Mix all ingredients together and bake in buttered casserole set in pan of hot water. Bake about 1 hour in moderate oven, or until set.

Cheese Fondue

1 cup grated Cheddar
½ cup crumbled Roquefort
1 cup pimento cheese
3 tablespoons cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire

Stir everything together over hot water until smooth and creamy. Then whisk until fluffy, moistening with more cream or mayonnaise if too stiff.

Serve on Melba toast, or assorted thin toasted crackers.

Brick Fondue

½ cup butter
2 cups grated Brick cheese
½ cup warm milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Melt butter and cheese together, use wire whisk to whip in the warm milk. Season. Take from fire and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Please note that Fondue protocol calls for each egg to be beaten separately in cases like this.

Serve over hot toast or crackers.

Cheddar Dunk Bowl

¾ pound sharp Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons cream
⅔ teaspoon dry mustard
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire

Grate the cheese powdery fine and mash it together with the cream until fluffy. Season and serve in a beautiful bowl for dunking in the original style of Savarin, although this is a static imitation of the real thing.

All kinds of crackers and colorful dips can be used, from celery stalks and potato chips to thin paddles cut from Bombay duck.

Sixty-five Sizzling Rabbits

From Bob Brown’s “The Complete Book of Cheese”, recipes on Sizzling Rabbits. And not the two eared kind. 🙂

That nice little smoky room at the “Salutation,” which is even now continually presenting itself to my recollection, with all its associated train of pipes, egg-hot, welsh-rabbits, metaphysics and poetry.

Charles Lamb,

Unlike the beginning of the classical Jugged Hare recipe: “First catch your hare!” we modern Rabbit-hunters start off with “First catch your Cheddar!” And some of us go so far as to smuggle in formerly forbidden fromages such as Gruyère, Neufchâtel, Parmesan, and mixtures thereof. We run the gamut of personal preferences in selecting the Rabbit cheese itself, from old-time American, yellow or store cheese, to Coon and Canadian-smoked, though all of it is still Cheddar, no matter how you slice it.

Then, too, guests are made to run the gauntlet of all-American trimmings from pin-money pickles to peanut butter, succotash and maybe marshmallows; we add mustard, chill, curry, tabasco and sundry bottled red devils from the grocery store, to add pep and piquance to the traditional cayenne and black pepper. This results in Rabbits that are out of focus, out of order and out of this world.

Among modern sins of omission, the Worcestershire sauce is left out by braggarts who aver that they can take it or leave it. And, in these degenerate days, when it comes to substitutions for the original beer or stale pale ale, we find the gratings of great Cheddars wet down with mere California sherry or even ginger ale—yet so far, thank goodness, no Cokes. And there’s tomato juice out of a can into the Rum Turn Tiddy, and sometimes celery soup in place of milk or cream.

In view of all this, we can only look to the standard cookbooks for salvation. These are mostly compiled by women, our thoughtful mothers, wives and sweethearts who have saved the twin Basic Rabbits for us. If it weren’t for these Fanny Farmers, the making of a real aboriginal Welsh Rabbit would be a lost art—lost in sporting male attempts to improve upon the original.

The girls are still polite about the whole thing and protectively pervert the original spelling of “Rabbit” to “Rarebit” in their culinary guides. We have heard that once a club of ladies in high society tried to high-pressure the publishers of Mr. Webster’s dictionary to change the old spelling in their favor. Yet there is a lot to be said for this more genteel and appetizing rendering of the word, for the Welsh masterpiece is, after all, a very rare bit of cheesemongery, male or female.

Yet in dealing with “Rarebits” the distaff side seldom sets down more than the basic Adam and Eve in a whole Paradise of Rabbits: No. 1, the wild male type made with beer, and No. 2, the mild female made with milk. Yet now that the chafing dish has come back to stay, there’s a flurry in the Rabbit warren and the new cooking encyclopedias give up to a dozen variants. Actually there are easily half a gross of valid ones in current esteem.

The two basic recipes are differentiated by the liquid ingredient, but both the beer and the milk are used only one way—warm, or anyway at room temperature. And again for the two, there is but one traditional cheese—Cheddar, ripe, old or merely aged from six months onward. This is also called American, store, sharp, Rabbit, yellow, beer, Wisconsin Longhorn, mouse, and even rat.

The seasoned, sapid Cheddar-type, so indispensable, includes dozens of varieties under different names, regional or commercial. These are easily identified as sisters-under-the-rinds by all five senses:

sight: Golden yellow and mellow to the eye. It’s one of those round cheeses that also tastes round in the mouth.

hearing: By thumping, a cheese-fancier, like a melon-picker, can tell if a Cheddar is rich, ripe and ready for the Rabbit. When you hear your dealer say, “It’s six months old or more,” enough said.

smell: A scent as fresh as that of the daisies and herbs the mother milk cow munched “will hang round it still.” Also a slight beery savor.

touch: Crumbly—a caress to the fingers.

taste: The quintessence of this fivefold test. Just cuddle a crumb with your tongue and if it tickles the taste buds it’s prime. When it melts in your mouth, that’s proof it will melt in the pan.

Beyond all this (and in spite of the school that plumps for the No. 2 temperance alternative) we must point out that beer has a special affinity for Cheddar. The French have clearly established this in their names for Welsh Rabbit, Fromage Fondue à la Bière and Fondue à l’Anglaise.

To prepare such a cheese for the pan, each Rabbit hound may have a preference all his own, for here the question comes up of how it melts best. Do you shave, slice, dice, shred, mince, chop, cut, scrape or crumble it in the fingers? This will vary according to one’s temperament and the condition of the cheese. Generally, for best results it is coarsely grated. When it comes to making all this into a rare bit of Rabbit there is:

The One and Only Method

Use a double boiler, or preferably a chafing dish, avoiding aluminum and other soft metals. Heat the upper pan by simmering water in the lower one, but don’t let the water boil up or touch the top pan.

Most, but not all, Rabbits are begun by heating a bit of butter or margarine in the pan in which one cup of roughly grated cheese, usually sharp Cheddar, is melted and mixed with one-half cup of liquid, added gradually. (The butter isn’t necessary for a cheese that should melt by itself.)

The two principal ingredients are melted smoothly together and kept from curdling by stirring steadily in one direction only, over an even heat. The spoon used should be of hard wood, sterling silver or porcelain. Never use tin, aluminum or soft metal—the taste may come off to taint the job.

Be sure the liquid is at room temperature, or warmer, and add it gradually, without interrupting the stirring. Do not let it come to the bubbling point, and never let it boil.

Add seasonings only when the cheese is melted, which will take two or three minutes. Then continue to stir in the same direction without an instant’s letup, for maybe ten minutes or more, until the Rabbit is smooth. The consistency and velvety smoothness depend a good deal on whether or not an egg, or a beaten yolk, is added.

The hotter the Rabbit is served, the better. You can sizzle the top with a salamander or other branding iron, but in any case set it forth as nearly sizzling as possible, on toast hellishly hot, whether it’s browned or buttered on one side or both.

Give a thought to the sad case of the “little dog whose name was Rover, and when he was dead he was dead all over.” Something very similar happens with a Rabbit that’s allowed to cool down—when it’s cold it’s cold all over, and you can’t resuscitate it by heating.


No. 1 (with beer)

2 tablespoons butter
3 cups grated old Cheddar
½ teaspoon English dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
A dash of cayenne
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten with
½ cup light beer or ale
4 slices hot buttered toast

Over boiling water melt butter and cheese together, stirring steadily with a wooden (or other tasteless) spoon in one direction only. Add seasonings and do not interrupt your rhythmic stirring, as you pour in a bit at a time of the beer-and-egg mixture until it’s all used up.

It may take many minutes of constant stirring to achieve the essential creamy thickness and then some more to slick it out as smooth as velvet.

Keep it piping hot but don’t let it bubble, for a boiled Rabbit is a spoiled Rabbit. Only unremitting stirring (and the best of cheese) will keep it from curdling, getting stringy or rubbery. Pour the Rabbit generously over crisp, freshly buttered toast and serve instantly on hot plates.

Usually crusts are cut off the bread before toasting, and some aesthetes toast one side only, spreading the toasted side with cold butter for taste contrast. Lay the toast on the hot plate, buttered side down, and pour the Rabbit over the porous untoasted side so it can soak in. (This is recommended in Lady Llanover’s recipe, which appears on page 52 of this book.)

Although the original bread for Rabbit toast was white, there is now no limit in choice among whole wheat, graham, rolls, muffins, buns, croutons and crackers, to infinity.

No. 2 (with milk)

For a rich milk Rabbit use ½ cup thin cream, evaporated milk,
whole milk or buttermilk, instead of beer as in No. 1. Then, to
keep everything bland, cut down the mustard by half or leave
it out, and use paprika in place of cayenne. As in No. 1, the
use of Worcestershire sauce is optional, although our feeling is
that any spirited Rabbit would resent its being left out.

Either of these basic recipes can be made without eggs, and more cheaply, although the beaten egg is a guarantee against stringiness. When the egg is missing, we are sad to record that a teaspoon or so of cornstarch generally takes its place.

Rabbiteers are of two minds about fast and slow heating and stirring, so you’ll have to adjust that to your own experience and rhythm. As a rule, the heat is reduced when the cheese is almost melted, and speed of stirring slows when the eggs and last ingredients go in.

Many moderns who have found that monosodium glutamate steps up the flavor of natural cheese, put it in at the start, using one-half teaspoon for each cup of grated Cheddar. When it comes to pepper you are fancy-free. As both black and white pepper are now held in almost equal esteem, you might equip your hutch with twin hand-mills to do the grinding fresh, for this is always worth the trouble. Tabasco sauce is little used and needs a cautious hand, but some addicts can’t leave it out any more than they can swear off the Worcestershire.

The school that plumps for malty Rabbits and the other that goes for milky ones are equally emphatic in their choice. So let us consider the compromise of our old friend Frederick Philip Stieff, the Baltimore homme de bouche, as he set it forth for us years ago in 10,000 Snacks: “The idea of cooking a Rabbit with beer is an exploded and dangerous theory. Tap your keg or open your case of ale or beer and serve with, not in your Rabbit.”


(completely surrounded by a lake of malt beverages)

2 cups grated sharp cheese
3 heaping tablespoons butter
1½ cups milk
4 eggs
1 heaping tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Pepper, salt and paprika to taste—then add more of each.

Grease well with butter the interior of your double boiler so that no hard particles of cheese will form in the mixture later and contribute undesirable lumps.

Put cheese, well-grated, into the double boiler and add butter and milk. From this point vigorous stirring should be indulged in until Rabbit is ready for serving.

Prepare a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, salt and paprika. These should be beaten until light and then slowly poured into the double boiler. Nothing now remains to be done except to stir and cook down to proper consistency over a fairly slow flame. The finale has not arrived until you can drip the rabbit from the spoon and spell the word finis on the surface. Pour over two pieces of toast per plate and send anyone home who does not attack it at once.

This is sufficient for six gourmets or four gourmands.

Nota bene: A Welsh Rabbit, to be a success, should never be of the consistency whereby it may be used to tie up bundles, nor yet should it bounce if inadvertently dropped on the kitchen floor.

Lady Llanover’s Toasted Welsh Rabbit

Cut a slice of the real Welsh cheese made of sheep’s and cow’s milk; toast it at the fire on both sides, but not so much as to drop (melt). Toast on one side a piece of bread less than ¼ inch thick, to be quite crisp, and spread it very thinly with fresh, cold butter on the toasted side. (It must not be saturated.) Lay the toasted cheese upon the untoasted bread side and serve immediately on a very hot plate. The butter on the toast can, of course, be omitted. (It is more frequently eaten without butter.)

From this original toasting of the cheese many Englishmen still call Welsh Rabbit “Toasted Cheese,” but Lady Llanover goes on to point out that the Toasted Rabbit of her Wales and the Melted or Stewed Buck Rabbit of England (which has become our American standard) are as different in the making as the regional cheeses used in them, and she says that while doctors prescribed the toasted Welsh as salubrious for invalids, the stewed cheese of Olde England was “only adapted to strong digestions.”

English literature rings with praise for the toasted cheese of Wales and England. There is Christopher North’s eloquent “threads of unbeaten gold, shining like gossamer filaments (that may be pulled from its tough and tenacious substance).”

Yet not all of the references are complimentary.

Thus Shakespeare in King Lear:
Look, look a mouse! Peace, peace;—this piece of toasted cheese will do it.

And Sydney Smith’s:

Old friendships are destroyed by toasted cheese, and hard salted meat has led to suicide.

But Khys Davis in My Wales makes up for such rudenesses:

The Welsh Enter Heaven

The Lord had been complaining to St. Peter of the dearth of good singers in Heaven. “Yet,” He said testily, “I hear excellent singing outside the walls. Why are not those singers here with me?”

St. Peter said, “They are the Welsh. They refuse to come in; they say they are happy enough outside, playing with a ball and boxing and singing such songs as ‘Suspan Fach'”

The Lord said, “I wish them to come in here to sing Bach and Mendelssohn. See that they are in before sundown.”

St. Peter went to the Welsh and gave them the commands of the Lord. But still they shook their heads. Harassed, St. Peter went to consult with St. David, who, with a smile, was reading the works of Caradoc Evans.

St. David said, “Try toasted cheese. Build a fire just inside the gates and get a few angels to toast cheese in front of it” This St. Peter did. The heavenly aroma of the sizzling, browning cheese was wafted over the walls and, with loud shouts, a great concourse of the Welsh came sprinting in. When sufficient were inside to make up a male voice choir of a hundred, St Peter slammed the gates. However, it is said that these are the only Welsh in Heaven.

And, lest we forget, the wonderful drink that made Alice grow and grow to the ceiling of Wonderland contained not only strawberry jam but toasted cheese.

Then there’s the frightening nursery rhyme:
The Irishman loved usquebaugh, The Scot loved ale called Bluecap. The Welshman, he loved toasted cheese, And made his mouth like a mousetrap.
The Irishman was drowned in usquebaugh, The Scot was drowned in ale, The Welshman he near swallowed a mouse But he pulled it out by the tail.

And, perhaps worst of all, Shakespeare, no cheese-lover, this tune in Merry Wives of Windsor:
‘Tis time I were choked by a bit of toasted cheese.

An elaboration of the simple Welsh original went English with Dr. William Maginn, the London journalist whose facile pen enlivened the Blackwoods Magazine era with Ten Tales:

Dr. Maginn’s Rabbit

Much is to be said in favor of toasted cheese for supper. It is the cant to say that Welsh rabbit is heavy eating. I like it best in the genuine Welsh way, however—that is, the toasted bread buttered on both sides profusely, then a layer of cold roast beef with mustard and horseradish, and then, on the top of all, the superstratum, of Cheshire thoroughly saturated, while, in the process of toasting, with genuine porter, black pepper, and shallot vinegar. I peril myself upon the assertion that this is not a heavy supper for a man who has been busy all day till dinner in reading, writing, walking or riding—who has occupied himself between dinner and supper in the discussion of a bottle or two of sound wine, or any equivalent—and who proposes to swallow at least three tumblers of something hot ere he resigns himself to the embrace of Somnus. With these provisos, I recommend toasted cheese for supper.

The popularity of this has come down to us in the succinct summing-up, “Toasted cheese hath no master.”

The Welsh original became simple after Dr. Maginn’s supper sandwich was served, a century and a half ago; for it was served as a savory to sum up and help digest a dinner, in this form:

After-Dinner Rabbit

Remove all crusts from bread slices, toast on both sides and soak to saturation in hot beer. Melt thin slices of sharp old cheese in butter in an iron skillet, with an added spot of beer and dry English mustard. Stir steadily with a wooden spoon and, when velvety, serve a-sizzle on piping hot beer-soaked toast.

While toasted cheese undoubtedly was the Number One dairy dish of Anglo-Saxons, stewed cheese came along to rival it in Elizabethan London. This sophisticated, big-city dish, also called a Buck Rabbit, was the making of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street, where Dr. Johnson later presided. And it must have been the pick of the town back in the days when barrooms still had sawdust on the floor, for the learned Doctor endorsed old Omar Khayyam’s love of the pub with: “There is nothing which has been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.” Yet he was no gourmet, as may be judged by his likening of a succulent, golden-fried oyster to “a baby’s ear dropped in sawdust.”

Perhaps it is just as well that no description of the world’s first Golden Buck has come down from him. But we don’t have to look far for on-the-spot pen pictures by other men of letters at “The Cheese,” as it was affectionately called. To a man they sang praises for that piping hot dish of preserved and beatified milk.

Inspired by stewed cheese, Mark Lemon, the leading rhymester of Punch, wrote the following poem and dedicated it to the memory of Lovelace:
Champagne will not a dinner make, Nor caviar a meal Men gluttonous and rich may take Those till they make them ill If I’ve potatoes to my chop, And after chop have cheese, Angels in Pond and Spiers’s shop Know no such luxuries.

All that’s necessary is an old-time “cheese stewer” or a reasonable substitute. The base of this is what was once quaintly called a “hot-water bath.” This was a sort of miniature wash boiler just big enough to fit in snugly half a dozen individual tins, made squarish and standing high enough above the bath water to keep any of it from getting into the stew. In these tins the cheese is melted. But since such a tinsmith’s contraption is hard to come by in these days of fireproof cooking glass, we suggest muffin tins, ramekins or even small cups to crowd into the bottom of your double boiler or chafing dish. But beyond this we plump for a revival of the “cheese stewer” in stainless steel, silver or glass.

In the ritual at “The Cheese,” these dishes, brimming over, “bubbling and blistering with the stew,” followed a pudding that’s still famous. Although down the centuries the recipe has been kept secret, the identifiable ingredients have been itemized as follows: “Tender steak, savory oyster, seductive kidney, fascinating lark, rich gravy, ardent pepper and delicate paste”—not to mention mushrooms. And after the second or third helping of pudding, with a pint of stout, bitter, or the mildest and mellowest brown October Ale in a dented pewter pot, “the stewed Cheshire cheese.”

Cheese was the one and only other course prescribed by tradition and appetite from the time when Charles II aled and regaled Nell Gwyn at “The Cheese,” where Shakespeare is said to have sampled this “kind of a glorified Welsh Rarebit, served piping hot in the square shallow tins in which it is cooked and garnished with sippets of delicately colored toast.”

Among early records is this report of Addison’s in The Spectator of September 25,1711:

They yawn for a Cheshire cheese, and begin about midnight, when the whole company is disposed to be drowsy. He that yawns widest, and at the same time so naturally as to produce the most yawns amongst his spectators, carries home the cheese.

Only a short time later, in 1725, the proprietor of Simpson’s in the Strand inaugurated a daily guessing contest that drew crowds to his fashionable eating and drinking place. He would set forth a huge portion of cheese and wager champagne and cigars for the house that no one present could correctly estimate the weight, height and girth of it.

As late as 1795, when Boswell was accompanying Dr. Johnson to “The Cheese,” records of St. Dunstan’s Club, which also met there, showed that the current price of a Buck Rabbit was tuppence, and that this was also the amount of the usual tip.

Ye Original Recipe

1½ ounces butter
1 cup cream
1½ cups grated Cheshire cheese (more pungent, snappier, richer,
and more brightly colored than its first cousin, Cheddar)

Heat butter and cream together, then stir in the cheese and let it stew.

You dunk fingers of toast directly into your individual tin, or pour the Stewed Rabbit over toast and brown the top under a blistering salamander.

The salamander is worth modernizing, too, so you can brand your own Rabbits with your monogram or the design of your own Rabbitry. Such a branding iron might be square, like the stew tin, and about the size of a piece of toast

It is notable that there is no beer or ale in this recipe, but not lamentable, since all aboriginal cheese toasts were washed down in tossing seas of ale, beer, porter, stout, and ‘arf and ‘arf.

This creamy Stewed Buck, on which the literary greats of Johnson’s time supped while they smoked their church wardens, received its highest praise from an American newspaper woman who rhapsodized in 1891: “Then came stewed cheese, on the thin shaving of crisp, golden toast in hot silver saucers—so hot that the cheese was the substance of thick cream, the flavor of purple pansies and red raspberries commingled.”

This may seem a bit flowery, but in truth many fine cheeses hold a trace of the bouquet of the flowers that have enriched the milk. Alpine blooms and herbs haunt the Gruyère, Parmesan wafts the scent of Parma violets, the Flower Cheese of England is perfumed with the petals of rose, violet, marigold and jasmine.


Chop small ½ pound of cooking cheese. Put it, with a piece of butter the size of a walnut, in a little saucepan, and as the butter melts and the cheese gets warm, mash them together,

When softened add 2 yolks of eggs, ½ teacupful of ale, a little cayenne pepper and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon one way only, until it is creamy, but do not let it boil, for that would spoil it. Place some slices of buttered toast on a dish, pour the Rarebit upon them, and set inside-the oven about 2 minutes before serving.

Yorkshire Rabbit

(originally called Gherkin Buck, from a pioneer recipe)

Put into a saucepan ½ pound of cheese, sprinkle with pepper (black, of course) to taste, pour over ½ teacup of ale, and convert the whole into a smooth, creamy mass, over the fire, stirring continually, for about 10 minutes.

In 2 more minutes it should be done. (10 minutes altogether is the minimum.) Pour it over slices of hot toast, place a piece of broiled bacon on the top of each and serve as hot as possible.

Golden Buck

A Golden Buck is simply the Basic Welsh Rabbit with beer (No. 1) plus a poached egg on top. The egg, sunny side up, gave it its shining name a couple of centuries ago. Nowadays some chafing dish show-offs try to gild the Golden Buck with dashes of ginger and spice.

Golden Buck II

This is only a Golden Buck with the addition of bacon strips.

The Venerable Yorkshire Buck

Spread ½-inch slices of bread with mustard and brown in hot oven. Then moisten each slice with ½ glass of ale, lay on top a slice of cheese ¼-inch thick, and 2 slices of bacon on top of that. Put back in oven, cook till cheese is melted and the bacon crisp, and serve piping hot, with tankards of cold ale.

Bacon is the thing that identifies any Yorkshire Rabbit.

Yale College Welsh Rabbit (MORIARTY’S)

1 jigger of beer
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon mustard
1½ cups grated or shaved cheese
More beer

Pour the jigger of beer into “a low saucepan,” dash on the seasonings, add the cheese and stir unremittingly, moistening from time to time with more beer, a pony or two at a time.

When creamy, pour over buttered toast (2 slices for this amount) and serve with still more beer.

There are two schools of postgraduate Rabbit-hunters: Yale, as above, with beer both in the Rabbit and with it; and the other featured in the Stieff Recipe, which prefers leaving it out of the Rabbit, but taps a keg to drink with it.

The ancient age of Moriarty’s campus classic is registered by the use of pioneer black pepper in place of white, which is often used today and is thought more sophisticated by some than the red cayenne of Rector’s Naughty Nineties Chafing Dish Rabbit, which is precisely the same as our Basic Recipe No. 1.

Border-hopping Bunny, or Frijole Rabbit

1½ tablespoons butter
1½ tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped pepper, green or red, or both
1½ teaspoon chili powder
1 small can kidney beans, drained
1½ tablespoons catsup
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
2 cups grated cheese

Cook onion and pepper lightly in butter with chili powder; add kidney beans and seasonings and stir in the cheese until melted.

Serve this beany Bunny peppery hot on tortillas or crackers, toasted and buttered.

In the whole hutch of kitchen Rabbitry the most popular modern ones are made with tomato, a little or lots. They hop in from everywhere, from Mexico to South Africa, and call for all kinds of quirks, down to mixing in some dried beef, and there is even a skimpy Tomato Rabbit for reducers, made with farmer cheese and skimmed milk.

Although the quaintly named Rum Tum Tiddy was doubtless the great-grandpappy of all Tomato Rabbits, a richer, more buttery and more eggy one has taken its place as the standard today. The following is a typical recipe for this, tried and true, since it has had a successful run through a score of the best modern cookbooks, with only slight personal changes to keep its juice a-flowing blood-red.

Tomato Rabbit

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
¾ cup thin cream or evaporated milk
¾ cup canned tomato pulp, rubbed through a sieve to remove seeds
A pinch of soda
3 cups grated cheese
Pinches of dry mustard, salt and cayenne
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Blend flour in melted butter, add cream slowly, and when this white sauce is a little thick, stir in tomato sprinkled with soda. Keep stirring steadily while adding cheese and seasonings, and when cooked enough, stir in the eggs to make a creamy texture, smooth as silk. Serve on buttered whole wheat or graham bread for a change.

Instead of soda, some antiquated recipes call for “a tablespoon of bicarbonate of potash.”

South African Tomato Rabbit

This is the same as above, except that ½ teaspoon of sugar is used in place of the soda and the Rabbit is poured over baked pastry cut into squares and sprinkled with parsley, chopped fine, put in the oven and served immediately.

Rum Tum Tiddy, Rink Tum Ditty, etc. (OLD BOSTON STYLE)

1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 big pinch of pepper
2 cups cooked tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups grated store cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

Slowly fry onion bright golden in butter, season and add tomatoes with sugar. Heat just under the bubbling point. Don’t let it boil, but keep adding cheese and shaking the pan until it melts. Then stir in egg gently and serve very hot

Tomato Soup Rabbit

1 can condensed tomato soup
2 cups grated cheese
¼ teaspoon English mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper

Heat soup, stir in cheese until melted, add mustard and egg slowly, season and serve hot.

This is a quickie Rum Tum Tiddy, without any onion, a poor, housebroken version of the original. It can be called a Celery Rabbit if you use a can of celery soup in place of the tomato.

Onion Rum Tum Tiddy

Prepare as in Rum Tum Tiddy, but use only 1½ cups cooked tomatoes and add ½ cup of mashed boiled onions.

Sherry Rum Tum Tiddy

1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, minced
1 small green pepper, minced
1 can tomato soup
¾ cup milk
3 cups grated cheese
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 jigger sherry

Prepare as in Rum Tum Tiddy. Stir in sherry last to retain its flavor. Crumble crackers into a hot tureen until it’s about ⅓ full and pour the hot Rum Tum Tiddy over them.

Blushing Bunny

This is a sister-under-the-skin to the old-fashioned Rum Tum Tiddy, except that her complexion is made a little rosier with a lot of paprika in place of plain pepper, and the paprika cooked in from the start, of course.

Blushing Bunny is one of those playful English names for dishes, like Pink Poodle, Scotch Woodcock (given below), Bubble and Squeak (Bubblum Squeakum), and Toad in the Hole.

Scotch Woodcock

Another variant of Rum Tum Tiddy. Make your Rum Tum Tiddy, but before finishing up with the beaten egg, stir in 2 heaping tablespoons of anchovy paste and prepare the buttered toast by laying on slices of hard-cooked eggs.

American Woodchuck

1½ cups tomato purée
2 cups grated cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Heat the tomato and stir in the cheese. When partly melted stir in the egg and, when almost cooked, add seasonings without ever interrupting the stirring. Pour over hot toasted crackers or bread.

No doubt this all-American Tomato Rabbit with brown sugar was named after the native woodchuck, in playful imitation of the Scotch Woodcock above. It’s the only Rabbit we know that’s sweetened with brown sugar.

Running Rabbit

(as served at the Waldorf-Astoria, First Annual Cheeselers Field Day, November 12,1937)

Cut finest old American cheese in very small pieces and melt in saucepan with a little good beer. Season and add Worcestershire sauce. Serve instantly with freshly made toast.

This running cony can be poured over toast like any other Rabbit, or over crushed crackers in a hot tureen, as in Sherry Rum Tum Tiddy, or served like Fondue, in the original cooking bowl or pan, with the spoon kept moving in it in one direction only and the Rabbit following the spoon, like a greyhound following the stuffed rabbit at the dog races.

Mexican Chilaly

1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons chopped green pepper 1½ tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup chopped and drained canned tomatoes, without seeds
2½ cups grated cheese
¾ teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canned tomato juice
Water cress

Cook pepper and onion lightly in butter, add tomato pulp and cook 5 minutes before putting over boiling water and stirring steadily as you add cheese and seasonings. Moisten the egg with the tomato juice and stir in until the Rabbit is thick and velvety.

Serve on toast and dress with water cress.

This popular modern Rabbit seems to be a twin to Rum Tum Tiddy in spite of the centuries’ difference in age.

Fluffy, Eggy Rabbit

Stir up a Chilaly as above, but use 2 well-beaten eggs to make it more fluffy, and leave out the watercress. Serve it hot over cold slices of hard-cooked eggs crowded flat on hot buttered toast, to make it extra eggy.

Grilled Tomato Rabbit

Slice big, red, juicy tomatoes ½-inch thick, season with salt, pepper and plenty of brown sugar. Dot both sides with all the butter that won’t slip off.

Heat in moderate oven, and when almost cooked, remove and broil on both sides. Put on hot plates in place of the usual toast and pour the Rabbit over them. (The Rabbit is made according to either Basic Recipe No. 1 or No. 2.)

Slices of crisp bacon on top of the tomato slices and a touch of horseradish help.

picture: pointer Grilled Tomato and Onion Rabbit

Slice ¼-inch thick an equal number of tomato and onion rings. Season with salt, pepper, brown sugar and dots of butter. Heat in moderate oven, and when almost cooked remove and broil lightly.

On hot plates lay first the onion rings, top with the tomato ones and pour the Rabbit over, as in the plain Grilled Tomato recipe above.

For another onion-flavored Rabbit see Celery and Onion Rabbit.

The Devil’s Own

(a fresh tomato variant)

2 tablespoons butter
1 large peeled tomato in 4 thick slices
2½ cups grated cheese
¼ teaspoon English mustard
A pinch of cayenne
A dash of tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons chili sauce
½ cup ale or beer
1 egg, lightly beaten

Sauté tomato slices lightly on both sides in 1 tablespoon butter. Keep warm on hot platter while you make the toast and a Basic Rabbit, pepped up by the extra-hot seasonings listed above. Put hot tomato slices on hot toast on hot plates; pour the hot mixture over.

Dried Beef or Chipped Beef Rabbit

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup canned tomato, drained, chopped and de-seeded
¼ pound dried beef, shredded
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups grated cheese

Heat tomato in butter, add beef and eggs, stir until mixed well, then sprinkle with pepper, stir in the grated cheese until smooth and creamy. Serve on toast.

No salt is needed on this jerked steer meat that is called both dried beef and chipped beef on this side of the border, tasajo on the other side, and xarque when you get all the way down to Brazil.

Kansas Jack Rabbit

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup cream-style corn
Salt and pepper

Make a white sauce of milk, butter and flour and stir in cheese steadily and gradually until melted. Add corn and season to taste. Serve on hot buttered toast.

Kansas has plenty of the makings for this, yet the dish must have been easier to make on Baron Münchhausen’s “Island of Cheese,” where the cornstalks produced loaves of bread, ready-made, instead of ears, and were no doubt crossed with long-eared jacks to produce Corn Rabbits quite as miraculous.

After tomatoes, in popularity, come onions and then green peppers or canned pimientos as vegetable ingredients in modern, Americanized Rabbits. And after that, corn, as in the following recipe which appeals to all Latin-Americans from Mexico to Chile because it has everything.

Latin-American Corn Rabbit

2 tablespoons butter
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup condensed tomato soup
3 cups grated cheese
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup canned corn
1 egg, lightly beaten

Fry pepper and onion 5 minutes in butter; add soup, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Put over boiling water; add cheese with seasonings and stir steadily, slowly adding the corn, and when thoroughly blended and creamy, moisten the egg with a little of the liquid, stir in until thickened and then pour over hot toast or crackers.

Mushroom-Tomato Rabbit

In one pan commence frying in butter 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms, and in another make a Rabbit by melting over boiling water 2 cups of grated cheese with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon paprika. Stir steadily and, when partially melted, stir in a can of condensed tomato soup, previously heated. Then add the fried mushrooms slowly, stir until creamy and pour over hot toast or crackers.

Celery and Onion Rabbit

½ cup chopped hearts of celery
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1½ cups grated sharp cheese
Salt and pepper

In a separate pan boil celery and onion until tender. Meanwhile, melt cheese with butter and seasonings and stir steadily. When nearly done stir the celery and onion in gradually, until smooth and creamy.

Pour over buttered toast and brown with a salamander or under the grill.

Asparagus Rabbit

Make as above, substituting a cupful of tender sliced asparagus tops for the celery and onion.

Oyster Rabbit

2 dozen oysters and their liquor
1 teaspoon butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large pinch of salt
1 small pinch of cayenne
3 cups grated cheese

Heat oysters until edges curl and put aside to keep warm while you proceed to stir up a Rabbit. When cheese is melted add the eggs with some of the oyster liquor and keep stirring. When the Rabbit has thickened to a smooth cream, drop in the warm oysters to heat a little more, and serve on hot buttered toast.

Sea-food Rabbits

(crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, abalone, squid, octopi; anything that swims in the sea or crawls on the bottom of the ocean)

Shred, flake or mince a cupful of any freshly cooked or canned sea food and save some of the liquor, if any. Make according to Oyster Rabbit recipe above.

Instead of using only one kind of sea food, try several, mixed according to taste. Spike this succulent Sea Rabbit with horseradish or a dollop of sherry, for a change.

“Bouquet of the Sea” Rabbit

The seafaring Portuguese set the style for this lush bouquet of as many different kinds of cooked fish (tuna, cod, salmon, etc.) as can be sardined together in the whirlpool of melted cheese in the chafing dish. They also accent it with tidbits of sea food as above.

Other Fish Rabbit, Fresh or Dried

Any cooked fresh fish, flaked or shredded, from the alewife to the whale, or cooked dried herring, finnan haddie, mackerel, cod, and so on, can be stirred in to make a basic Rabbit more tasty. Happy combinations are hit upon in mixing leftovers of several kinds by the cupful. So the odd old cookbook direction, “Add a cup of fish,” takes on new meaning.

Grilled Sardine Rabbit

Make a Basic Rabbit and pour it over sardines, skinned, boned, halved and grilled, on buttered toast.

Similarly cooked fillets of any small fish will make as succulent a grilled Rabbit.

Roe Rabbits

Slice cooked roe of shad or toothsome eggs of other fish, grill on toast, butter well and pour a Basic Rabbit over. Although shad roe is esteemed the finest, there are many other sapid ones of salmon, herring, flounder, cod, etc.

Plain Sardine Rabbit

Make Basic Rabbit with only 2 cups of cheese, and in place of the egg yolks and beer, stir in a large tin of sardines, skinned, boned and flaked.

Anchovy Rabbit

Make Basic Rabbit, add 1 tablespoon of imported East Indian chutney with the egg yolks and beer at the finish, spread toast thickly with anchovy paste and butter, and pour the Rabbit over.

Smoked sturgeon, whiting, eel, smoked salmon, and the like

Lay cold slices or flakes of any fine smoked fish (and all of them are fine) on hot buttered toast and pour a Basic Rabbit over the fish.

The best combination we ever tasted is made by laying a thin slice of smoked salmon over a thick one of smoked sturgeon.

Smoked Cheddar Rabbit

With or without smoked fish, Rabbit-hunters whose palates crave the savor of a wisp of smoke go for a Basic Rabbit made with smoked Cheddar in place of the usual aged, but unsmoked, Cheddar. We use a two-year-old that Phil Alpert, Mr. Cheese himself, brings down from Canada and has specially smoked in the same savory room where sturgeon is getting the works. So his Cheddar absorbs the de luxe flavor of six-dollar-per-pound sturgeon and is sold for a fraction of that.

And just in case you are fishing around for something extra special, serve this smoky Rabbit on oven-browned Bombay ducks, those crunchy flat toasts of East Indian fish.

Or go Oriental by accompanying this with cups of smoky Lapsang Soochong China tea.

Crumby Rabbit

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup stale bread crumbs
soaked with
1 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Toasted crackers

Melt cheese in butter, stir in the soaked crumbs and seasonings. When cooked smooth and creamy, stir in the egg to thicken the mixture and serve on toasted crackers, dry or buttered, for contrast with the bread.

Some Rabbiteers monkey with this, lacing it with half a cup of catsup, making a sort of pink baboon out of what should be a white monkey.

There is a cult for Crumby Rabbits variations on which extend all the way to a deep casserole dish called Baked Rabbit and consisting of alternate layers of stale bread crumbs and grated-cheese crumbs. This illegitimate three-layer Rabbit is moistened with eggs beaten up with milk, and seasoned with salt and paprika.

Crumby Tomato Rabbit

2 teaspoons butter
2 cups grated cheese
½ cup soft bread crumbs
1 cup tomato soup
Salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

Melt cheese in butter, moisten bread crumbs with the tomato soup and stir in; season, add egg and keep stirring until velvety. Serve on toasted crackers, as a contrast to the bread crumbs.

Gherkin or Irish Rabbit

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups grated cheese
½ cup milk (or beer)
A dash of vinegar
½ teaspoon mustard
Salt and pepper
½ cup chopped gherkin pickles

Melt cheese in butter, steadily stir in liquid and seasonings. Keep stirring until smooth, then add the pickles and serve.

This may have been called Irish after the green of the pickle.

Dutch Rabbit

Melt thin slices of any good cooking cheese in a heavy skillet with a little butter, prepared mustard, and a splash of beer.

Have ready some slices of toast soaked in hot beer or ale and pour the Rabbit over them.

The temperance version of this substitutes milk for beer and delicately soaks the toast in hot water instead.

Proof that there is no Anglo-Saxon influence here lies in the use of prepared mustard. The English, who still do a lot of things the hard way, mix their biting dry mustard fresh with water before every meal, while the Germans and French bottle theirs, as we do.

picture: pointer Pumpernickel Rabbit

This German deviation is made exactly the same as the Dutch Rabbit above, but its ingredients are the opposite in color. Black bread (pumpernickel) slices are soaked in heated dark beer (porter or stout) and the yellow cheese melted in the skillet is also stirred up with brunette beer.

Since beer is a kind of liquid bread, it is natural for the two to commingle in Rabbits whether they are blond Dutch or black pumpernickel. And since cheese is only solid milk, and the Cheddar is noted for its beery smell, there is further affinity here. An old English proverb sums it up neatly: “Bread and cheese are the two targets against death.”

By the way, the word pumpernickel is said to have been coined when Napoleon tasted his first black bread in Germany. Contemptuously he spat it out with: “This would be good for my horse, Nicole.” “Bon pour Nicole” in French.

picture: pointer Gruyère Welsh Rabbit au gratin

Cut crusts from a half-dozen slices of bread. Toast them lightly, lay in a roasting pan and top each with a matching slice of imported Gruyère ⅜-inch thick. Pepper to taste and cover with bread crumbs. Put in oven 10 minutes and rush to the ultimate consumer.

To our American ears anything au gratin suggests “with cheese,” so this Rabbit au gratin may sound redundant. To a Frenchman, however, it means a dish covered with bread crumbs.

Swiss Cheese Rabbit

½ cup white wine, preferably Neufchâtel
½ cup grated Gruyère
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ saltspoon paprika
2 egg yolks

Stir wine and seasonings together with the cheese until it melts, then thicken with the egg yolks, stirring at least 3 more minutes until smooth.

Sherry Rabbit

3 cups grated cheese
½ cup cream or evaporated milk
½ cup sherry
¼ teaspoon English mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
A dash of paprika

Heat cheese over hot water, with or without a bit of butter, and when it begins to melt, stir in the cream. Keep stirring until almost all of the cheese is melted, then add sherry. When smooth and creamy, stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and after pouring over buttered toast dash with paprika for color.

Spanish Sherry Rabbit

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 bouillon cube, mashed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1½ cups milk
1½ cups grated cheese
1 jigger sherry

Make a smooth paste of butter, flour, bouillon cube and seasonings, and add milk slowly. When well-heated stir in the cheese gradually. Continue stirring at least 10 minutes, and when well-blended stir in the sherry and serve on hot, buttered toast.

Pink Poodle

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon flour
1 jigger California claret
1 cup cream of tomato soup
A pinch of soda
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
A dash of powdered cloves
3 cups grated cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

Cook onion in butter until light golden, then blend in flour, wine and soup with the soda and all seasonings. Stir in cheese slowly until melted and finish off by thickening with the egg and stirring until smooth and velvety. Serve on crisp, buttered toast with a dry red wine.

Although wine Rabbits, red or white, are as unusual as Swiss ones with Gruyère in place of Cheddar, wine is commonly drunk with anything from a Golden Buck to a Blushing Bunny. But for most of us, a deep draught of beer or ale goes best with an even deeper draught of the mellow scent of a Cheddar golden-yellow.

Savory Eggy Dry Rabbit

⅛ pound butter
2 cups grated Gruyère
4 eggs, well-beaten

Melt butter and cheese together with the beaten eggs, stirring steadily with wooden spoon until soft and smooth. Season and pour over dry toast.

This “dry” Rabbit, in which the volume of the eggs makes up for any lacking liquid, is still served as a savory after the sweets to finish a fine meal in some old-fashioned English homes and hostelries.

Cream Cheese Rabbit

This Rabbit, made with a package of cream cheese, is more scrambled hen fruit than Rabbit food, for you simply scramble a half-dozen eggs with butter, milk, salt, pepper and cayenne, and just before the finish work in the cheese until smooth and serve on crackers—water crackers for a change.

Reducing Rarebit (Tomato Rarebit)[A]

YIELD: 2 servings. 235 calories per serving.

½ pound farmer cheese
2 eggs
1 level tablespoon powdered milk
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon gelatin or agar powder
4 egg tomatoes, quartered, or
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
½ head lettuce and/or 1 cucumber
¼ cup wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Fill bottom of double boiler with water to ¾ mark. Sprinkle salt in upper part of double boiler. Boil over medium flame. When upper part is hot, put in cheese, powdered milk, baking powder, gelatin, caraway seeds and pepper and garlic powder to taste. Mix. Break eggs into this mixture, cook over low flame, continually stirring. Add tomatoes when mixture bubbles and continue cooking and stirring until tomatoes have been cooked soft. Remove to lettuce and/or cucumber (sliced thin) which has been slightly marinated in wine vinegar and sprinkle the parsley flakes over the top of the mixture.

[A] (from The Low-Calory Cookbook by Bernard Koten, published by Random House)

Curry Rabbit

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups milk
2½ cups grated cheese
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 green onions, minced
2 shallots, minced
¼ teaspoon imported curry powder
1 tablespoon chutney sauce

Dissolve cornstarch in a little of the milk and scald the rest over hot water. Thicken with cornstarch mixture and stir in the cheese, chives, onions, shallots, curry and chutney while wooden-spooning steadily until smooth and sizzling enough to pour over buttered toast.

People who can’t let well enough alone put cornstarch in Rabbits, just as they add soda to spoil the cooking of vegetables.

Ginger Ale Rabbit

Simply substitute ginger ale for the real thing in the No. 1 Rabbit of all time.

Buttermilk Rabbit

Substitute buttermilk for plain milk in the No. 2 Rabbit. To be consistent, use fresh-cured Buttermilk Cheese, instead of the usual Cheddar of fresh cow’s milk. This is milder.

Eggnog Rabbit

2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups grated mellow Cheddar
1⅓ cups eggnog
Dashes of spice to taste.

After melting the cheese in butter, stir in the eggnog and keep stirring until smooth and thickened. Season or not, depending on taste and the quality of eggnog employed.

Ever since the innovation of bottled eggnogs fresh from the milkman in holiday season, such supremely creamy and flavorful Rabbits have been multiplying as fast as guinea pigs.

All-American Succotash Rabbit

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups grated cheese
1 cup creamed succotash, strained
Salt and pepper

Make a white sauce of milk, butter and flour and stir in the cheese steadily and gradually until melted. Add the creamed succotash and season to taste.

Serve on toasted, buttered corn bread.

Danish Rabbit

1 quart warm milk
2 cups grated cheese

Stir together to boiling point and pour over piping-hot toast in heated bowl. This is an esteemed breakfast dish in north Denmark.

As in all Rabbits, more or less cheese may be used, to taste.

picture: pointer Easy English Rabbit

Soak bread slices in hot beer. Melt thin slices of cheese with butter in iron frying pan, stir in a few spoonfuls of beer and a bit of prepared mustard. When smoothly melted, pour over the piping-hot, beer-soaked toast.

More from Bob Brown’s: The Complete Book of Cheese

Since my last post was about the 1955 book by Bob Brown, “The Complete book on Cheese,” I thought I would include today the American cheeses, or what Bob referred to as “Native American.”

Native Americans

American Cheddars

The first American Cheddar was made soon after 1620 around Plymouth by Pilgrim fathers who brought along not only cheese from the homeland but a live cow to continue the supply. Proof of our ability to manufacture Cheddar of our own lies in the fact that by 1790 we were exporting it back to England.

It was called Cheddar after the English original named for the village of Cheddar near Bristol. More than a century ago it made a new name for itself, Herkimer County cheese, from the section of New York State where it was first made best. Herkimer still equals its several distinguished competitors, Coon, Colorado Blackie, California Jack, Pineapple, Sage, Vermont Colby and Wisconsin Longhorn.

The English called our imitation Yankee, or American, Cheddar, while here at home it was popularly known as yellow or store cheese from its prominent position in every country store; also apple-pie cheese because of its affinity for the all-American dessert.

The first Cheddar factory was founded by Jesse Williams in Rome, New York, just over a century ago and, with Herkimer County Cheddar already widely known, this established “New York” as the preferred “store-boughten” cheese.

An account of New York’s cheese business in the pioneer Wooden Nutmeg Era is found in Ernest Elmo Calkins’ interesting book, They Broke the Prairies. A Yankee named Silvanus Ferris, “the most successful dairyman of Herkimer County,” in the first decades of the 1800’s teamed up with Robert Nesbit, “the old Quaker Cheese Buyer.” They bought from farmers in the region and sold in New York City. And “according to the business ethics of the times,” Nesbit went ahead to cheapen the cheese offered by deprecating its quality, hinting at a bad market and departing without buying. Later when Ferris arrived in a more optimistic mood, offering a slightly better price, the seller, unaware they were partners, and ignorant of the market price, snapped up the offer.

Similar sharp-trade tactics put too much green cheese on the market, so those honestly aged from a minimum of eight months up to two years fetched higher prices. They were called “old,” such as Old Herkimer, Old Wisconsin Longhorn, and Old California Jack.

Although the established Cheddar ages are three, fresh, medium-cured, and cured or aged, commercially they are divided into two and described as mild and sharp. The most popular are named for their states: Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin. Two New York Staters are called and named separately, Coon and Herkimer County. Tillamook goes by its own name with no mention of Oregon. Pineapple, Monterey Jack and Sage are seldom listed as Cheddars at all, although they are basically that.


Brick is the one and only cheese for which the whole world gives America credit. Runners-up are Liederkranz, which rivals say is too close to Limburger, and Pineapple, which is only a Cheddar under its crisscrossed, painted and flavored rind. Yet Brick is no more distinguished than either of the hundred percent Americans, and in our opinion is less worth bragging about.

It is a medium-firm, mild-to-strong slicing cheese for sandwiches and melting in hot dishes. Its texture is elastic but not rubbery, its taste sweetish, and it is full of little round holes or eyes. All this has inspired enthusiasts to liken it to Emmentaler. The most appropriate name for it has long been “married man’s Limburger.” To make up for the mildness caraway seed is sometimes added.

About Civil War time, John Jossi, a dairyman of Dodge County, Wisconsin, came up with this novelty, a rennet cheese made of whole cow’s milk. The curd is cut like Cheddar, heated, stirred and cooked firm to put in a brick-shaped box without a bottom and with slits in the sides to drain. When this is set on the draining table a couple of bricks are also laid on the cooked curd for pressure. It is this double use of bricks, for shaping and for pressing, that has led to the confusion about which came first in originating the name.

The formed “bricks” of cheese are rubbed with salt for three days and they ripen slowly, taking up to two months.

We eat several million pounds a year and 95 percent of that comes from Wisconsin, with a trickle from New York.

Colorado Blackie Cheese

A subtly different American Cheddar is putting Colorado on our cheese map. It is called Blackie from the black-waxed rind and it resembles Vermont State cheese, although it is flatter. This is a proud new American product, proving that although Papa Cheddar was born in England his American kinfolk have developed independent and valuable characters all on their own.

Coon Cheese

Coon cheese is full of flavor from being aged on shelves at a higher temperature than cold storage. Its rind is darker from the growth of mold and this shade is sometimes painted on more ordinary Cheddars to make them look like Coon, which always brings a 10 percent premium above the general run.

Made at Lowville, New York, it has received high praise from a host of admirers, among them the French cook, Clementine, in Phineas Beck’s Kitchen, who raised it to the par of French immortals by calling it Fromage de Coon. Clementine used it “with scintillating success in countless French recipes which ended with the words gratiner au four et servir tres chaud. She made baguettes of it by soaking sticks three-eights-inch square and one and a half inches long in lukewarm milk, rolling them in flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs and browning them instantaneously in boiling oil.”

Herkimer County Cheese

The standard method for making American Cheddar was established in Herkimer County, New York, in 1841 and has been rigidly maintained down to this day. Made with rennet and a bacterial “starter,” the curd is cut and pressed to squeeze out all of the whey and then aged in cylindrical forms for a year or more.

Herkimer leads the whole breed by being flaky, brittle, sharp and nutty, with a crumb that will crumble, and a soft, mouth-watering pale orange color when it is properly aged.


Isigny is a native American cheese that came a cropper. It seems to be extinct now, and perhaps that is all to the good, for it never meant to be anything more than another Camembert, of which we have plenty of imitation.

Not long after the Civil War the attempt was made to perfect Isigny. The curd was carefully prepared according to an original formula, washed and rubbed and set aside to come of age. But when it did, alas, it was more like Limburger than Camembert, and since good domestic Limburger was then a dime a pound, obviously it wouldn’t pay off. Yet in shape the newborn resembled Camembert, although it was much larger. So they cut it down and named it after the delicate French Creme d’lsigny.

Jack, California Jack and Monterey Jack

Jack was first known as Monterey cheese from the California county where it originated. Then it was called Jack for short, and only now takes its full name after sixty years of popularity on the West Coast. Because it is little known in the East and has to be shipped so far, it commands the top Cheddar price.

Monterey Jack is a stirred curd Cheddar without any annatto coloring. It is sweeter than most and milder when young, but it gets sharper with age and more expensive because of storage costs.


No native American cheese has been so widely ballyhooed, and so deservedly, as Liederkranz, which translates “Wreath of Song.”

Back in the gay, inventive nineties, Emil Frey, a young delicatessen keeper in New York, tried to please some bereft customers by making an imitation of Bismarck Schlosskäse. This was imperative because the imported German cheese didn’t stand up during the long sea trip and Emil’s customers, mostly members of the famous Liederkranz singing society, didn’t feel like singing without it. But Emil’s attempts at imitation only added indigestion to their dejection, until one day—fabelhaft! One of those cheese dream castles in Spain came true. He turned out a tawny, altogether golden, tangy and mellow little marvel that actually was an improvement on Bismarck’s old Schlosskäse. Better than Brick, it was a deodorized Limburger, both a man’s cheese and one that cheese-conscious women adored.

Emil named it “Wreath of Song” for the Liederkranz customers. It soon became as internationally known as tabasco from Texas or Parisian Camembert which it slightly resembles. Borden’s bought out Frey in 1929 and they enjoy telling the story of a G.I. who, to celebrate V-E Day in Paris, sent to his family in Indiana, only a few miles from the factory at Van Wert, Ohio, a whole case of what he had learned was “the finest cheese France could make.” And when the family opened it, there was Liederkranz.

Another deserved distinction is that of being sandwiched in between two foreign immortals in the following recipe:

picture: pointer Schnitzelbank Pot

1 ripe Camembert cheese
1 Liederkranz
⅛ pound imported Roquefort
¼ pound butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup cream
½ cup finely chopped olives
¼ cup canned pimiento
A sprinkling of cayenne

Depending on whether or not you like the edible rind of Camembert and Liederkranz, you can leave it on, scrape any thick part off, or remove it all. Mash the soft creams together with the Roquefort, butter and flour, using a silver fork. Put the mix into an enameled pan, for anything with a metal surface will turn the cheese black in cooking.

Stir in the cream and keep stirring until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Strain through sieve or cheesecloth, and mix in the olives and pimiento thoroughly. Sprinkle well with cayenne and put into a pot to mellow for a few days, or much longer.

The name Schnitzelbank comes from “school bench,” a game. This snappy-sweet pot is specially suited to a beer party and stein songs. It is also the affinity-spread with rye and pumpernickel, and may be served in small sandwiches or on crackers, celery and such, to make appetizing tidbits for cocktails, tea, or cider.

Like the trinity of cheeses that make it, the mixture is eaten best at room temperature, when its flavor is fullest. If kept in the refrigerator, it should be taken out a couple of hours before serving. Since it is a natural cheese mixture, which has gone through no process or doping with preservative, it will not keep more than two weeks. This mellow-sharp mix is the sort of ideal the factory processors shoot at with their olive-pimiento abominations. Once you’ve potted your own, you’ll find it gives the same thrill as garnishing your own Liptauer.

Minnesota Blue

The discovery of sandstone caves in the bluffs along the Mississippi, in and near the Twin Cities of Minnesota, has established a distinctive type of Blue cheese named for the state. Although the Roquefort process of France is followed and the cheese is inoculated in the same way by mold from bread, it can never equal the genuine imported, marked with its red-sheep brand, because the milk used in Minnesota Blue is cow’s milk, and the caves are sandstone instead of limestone. Yet this is an excellent, Blue cheese in its own right.


Pineapple cheese is named after its shape rather than its flavor, although there are rumors that some pineapple flavor is noticeable near the oiled rind. This flavor does not penetrate through to the Cheddar center. Many makers of processed cheese have tampered with the original, so today you can’t be sure of anything except getting a smaller size every year or two, at a higher price. Originally six pounds, the Pineapple has shrunk to nearly six ounces. The proper bright-orange, oiled and shellacked surface is more apt to be a sickly lemon.

Always an ornamental cheese, it once stood in state on the side-board under a silver bell also made to represent a pineapple. You cut a top slice off the cheese, just as you would off the fruit, and there was a rose-colored, fine-tasting, mellow-hard cheese to spoon out with a special silver cheese spoon or scoop. Between meals the silver top was put on the silver holder and the oiled and shellacked rind kept the cheese moist. Even when the Pineapple was eaten down to the rind the shell served as a dunking bowl to fill with some salubrious cold Fondue or salad.

Made in the same manner as Cheddar with the curd cooked harder, Pineapple’s distinction lies in being hung in a net that makes diamond-shaped corrugations on the surface, simulating the sections of the fruit. It is a pioneer American product with almost a century and a half of service since Lewis M. Norton conceived it in 1808 in Litchfield County, Connecticut. There in 1845 he built a factory and made a deserved fortune out of his decorative ingenuity with what before had been plain, unromantic yellow or store cheese.

Perhaps his inspiration came from cone-shaped Cheshire in old England, also called Pineapple cheese, combined with the hanging up of Provolones in Italy that leaves the looser pattern of the four sustaining strings.

Sage, Vermont Sage and Vermont State

The story of Sage cheese, or green cheese as it was called originally, shows the several phases most cheeses have gone through, from their simple, honest beginnings to commercialization, and sometimes back to the real thing.

The English Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery has an early Sage recipe:

This is a species of cream cheese made by adding sage leaves and greening to the milk. A very good receipt for it is given thus: Bruise the tops of fresh young red sage leaves with an equal quantity of spinach leaves and squeeze out the juice. Add this to the extract of rennet and stir into the milk as much as your taste may deem sufficient. Break the curd when it comes, salt it, fill the vat high with it, press for a few hours, and then turn the cheese every day.

Fancy Cheese in America, lay Charles A. Publow, records the commercialization of the cheese mentioned above, a century or two later, in 1910:

Sage cheese is another modified form of the Cheddar variety. Its distinguishing features are a mottled green color and a sage flavor. The usual method of manufacture is as follows: One-third of the total amount of milk is placed in a vat by itself and colored green by the addition of eight to twelve ounces of commercial sage color to each 1,000 pounds of milk. If green corn leaves (unavailable in England) or other substances are used for coloring, the amounts will vary accordingly. The milk is then made up by the regular Cheddar method, as is also the remaining two-thirds, in a separate vat. At the time of removing the whey the green and white curds are mixed. Some prefer, however, to mix the curds at the time of milling, as a more distinct color is secured. After milling, the sage extract flavoring is sprayed over the curd with an atomizer. The curd is then salted and pressed into the regular Cheddar shapes and sizes.

A very satisfactory Sage cheese is made at the New York State College of Agriculture by simply dropping green coloring, made from the leaves of corn and spinach, upon the curd, after milling. An even green mottling is thus easily secured without additional labor. Sage flavoring extract is sprayed over the curd by an atomizer. One-half ounce of flavoring is usually sufficient for a hundred pounds of curd and can be secured from dairy supply houses.

A modern cheese authority reported on the current (1953) method:

Instead of sage leaves, or tea prepared from them, at present the cheese is flavored with oil of Dalmatian wild sage because it has the sharpest flavor. This piny oil, thujone, is diluted with water, 250 parts to one, and either added to the milk or sprayed over the curds, one-eighth ounce for 500 quarts of milk.

In scouting around for a possible maker of the real thing today, we wrote to Vrest Orton of Vermont, and got this reply:

Sage cheese is one of the really indigenous and best native Vermont products. So far as I know, there is only one factory making it and that is my friend, George Crowley’s. He makes a limited amount for my Vermont Country Store. It is the fine old-time full cream cheese, flavored with real sage.

On this hangs a tale. Some years ago I couldn’t get enough sage cheese (we never can) so I asked a Wisconsin cheesemaker if he would make some. Said he would but couldn’t at that time—because the alfalfa wasn’t ripe. I said, “What in hell has alfalfa got to do with sage cheese?” He said, “Well, we flavor the sage cheese with a synthetic sage flavor and then throw in some pieces of chopped-up alfalfa to make it look green.”

So I said to hell with that and the next time I saw George Crowley I told him the story and George said, “We don’t use synthetic flavor, alfalfa or anything like that.”

” Then what do you use, George?” I inquired.

“We use real sage.”


“Well, because it’s cheaper than that synthetic stuff.”

The genuine Vermont Sage arrived. Here are our notes on it:

Oh, wilderness were Paradise enow! My taste buds come to full flower with the Sage. There’s a slight burned savor recalling smoked cheese, although not related in any way. Mildly resinous like that Near East one packed in pine, suggesting the well-saged dressing of a turkey. A round mouthful of luscious mellowness, with a bouquet—a snapping reminder to the nose. And there’s just a soupçon of new-mown hay above the green freckles of herb to delight the eye and set the fancy free. So this is the véritable vert, green cheese—the moon is made of it! Vert véritable. A general favorite with everybody who ever tasted it, for generations of lusty crumblers.

Old-Fashioned Vermont State Store Cheese

We received from savant Vrest Orton another letter, together with some Vermont store cheese and some crackers.

This cheese is our regular old-fashioned store cheese—it’s been in old country stores for generations and we have been pioneers in spreading the word about it. It is, of course, a natural aged cheese, no processing, no fussing, no fooling with it. It’s made the same way it was back in 1870, by the old-time Colby method which makes a cheese which is not so dry as Cheddar and also has holes in it, something like Swiss. Also, it ages faster.

Did you know that during the last part of the nineteenth century and part of the twentieth, Vermont was the leading cheesemaking state in the Union? When I was a lad, every town in Vermont had one or more cheese factories. Now there are only two left—not counting any that make process. Process isn’t cheese!

The crackers are the old-time store cracker—every Vermonter used to buy a big barrel once a year to set in the buttery and eat. A classic dish is crackers, broken up in a bowl of cold milk, with a hunk of Vermont cheese like this on the side. Grand snack, grand midnight supper, grand anything. These crackers are not sweet, not salt, and as such make a good base for anything—swell with clam chowder, also with toasted cheese….


It takes two pocket-sized, but thick, yellow volumes to record the story of Oregon’s great Tillamook. The Cheddar Box, by Dean Collins, comes neatly boxed and bound in golden cloth stamped with a purple title, like the rind of a real Tillamook. Volume I is entitled Cheese Cheddar, and Volume II is a two-pound Cheddar cheese labeled Tillamook and molded to fit inside its book jacket. We borrowed Volume I from a noted littérateur, and never could get him to come across with Volume II. We guessed its fate, however, from a note on the flyleaf of the only tome available: “This is an excellent cheese, full cream and medium sharp, and a unique set of books in which Volume II suggests Bacon’s: ‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.'”

Wisconsin Longhorn

Since we began this chapter with all-American Cheddars, it is only fitting to end with Wisconsin Longhorn, a sort of national standard, even though it’s not nearly so fancy or high-priced as some of the regional natives that can’t approach its enormous output. It’s one of those all-purpose round cheeses that even taste round in your mouth. We are specially partial to it.

Most Cheddars are named after their states. Yet, putting all of these thirty-seven states together, they produce only about half as much as Wisconsin alone.

Besides Longhorn, in Wisconsin there are a dozen regional competitors ranging from White Twin Cheddar, to which no annatto coloring has been added, through Green Bay cheese to Wisconsin Redskin and Martha Washington Aged, proudly set forth by P.H. Kasper of Bear Creek, who is said to have “won more prizes in forty years than any ten cheesemakers put together.”

To help guarantee a market for all this excellent apple-pie cheese, the Wisconsin State Legislature made a law about it, recognizing the truth of Eugene Field’s jingle:
Apple pie without cheese Is like a kiss without a squeeze.

Small matter in the Badger State when the affinity is made legal and the couple lawfully wedded in Statute No. 160,065. It’s still in force:

Butter and cheese to be served. Every person, firm or corporation duly licensed to operate a hotel or restaurant shall serve with each meal for which a charge of twenty-five cents or more is made, at least two-thirds of an ounce of Wisconsin butter and two-thirds of an ounce of Wisconsin cheese.

Besides Longhorn, Wisconsin leads in Limburger. It produces so much Swiss that the state is sometimes called Swissconsin.

Bob Brown’s: The Complete Book of Cheese

So, if you are like me, you like Cheese. Of course, my stomach doesn’t like cheese, but that is a completely different story (which I will spare you all from).


Within this book there are fun stories and the author’s memories of cheese, as well as facts about the product.

Here is a bit about foreign cheeses and how they all break down into categories:

Foreign Greats
Ode to Cheese
God of the country, bless today Thy cheese, For which we give Thee thanks on bended knees. Let them be fat or light, with onions blent, Shallots, brine, pepper, honey; whether scent Of sheep or fields is in them, in the yard Let them, good Lord, at dawn be beaten hard. And let their edges take on silvery shades Under the moist red hands of dairymaids; And, round and greenish, let them go to town Weighing the shepherd’s folding mantle down; Whether from Parma or from Jura heights, Kneaded by august hands of Carmelites, Stamped with the mitre of a proud abbess. Flowered with the perfumes of the grass of Bresse, From hollow Holland, from the Vosges, from Brie, From Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Italy! Bless them, good Lord! Bless Stilton’s royal fare, Red Cheshire, and the tearful cream Gruyère.

Symphonie des Fromages

A giant Cantal, seeming to have been chopped open with an ax, stood aside of a golden-hued Chester and a Swiss Gruyère resembling the wheel of a Roman chariot There were Dutch Edams, round and blood-red, and Port-Saluts lined up like soldiers on parade. Three Bries, side by side, suggested phases of the moon; two of them, very dry, were amber-colored and “full,” and the third, in its second quarter, was runny and creamy, with a “milky way” which no human barrier seemed able to restrain. And all the while majestic Roqueforts looked down with princely contempt upon the other, through the glass of their crystal covers.

Emile Zola

In 1953 the United States Department of Agriculture published Handbook No. 54, entitled Cheese Varieties and Descriptions, with this comment: “There probably are only about eighteen distinct types or kinds of natural cheese.” All the rest (more than 400 names) are of local origin, usually named after towns or communities. A list of the best-known names applied to each of these distinct varieties or groups is given:
Brick Gouda Romano
Camembert Hand Roquefort
Cheddar Limburger Sapsago
Cottage Neufchâtel Swiss
Cream Parmesan Trappist
Edam Provolone Whey cheeses (Mysost and Ricotta)

May we nominate another dozen to form our own Cheese Hall of Fame? We begin our list with a partial roll call of the big Blues family and end it with members of the monastic order of Port-Salut Trappist that includes Canadian Oka and our own Kentucky thoroughbred.

The Blues that Are Green

Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola form the triumvirate that rules a world of lesser Blues. They are actually green, as green as the mythical cheese the moon is made of.

In almost every, land where cheese is made you can sample a handful of lesser Blues and imitations of the invincible three and try to classify them, until you’re blue in the face. The best we can do in this slight summary is to mention a few of the most notable, aside from our own Blues of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon and other states that major in cheese.

Danish Blues are popular and splendidly made, such as “Flower of Denmark.” The Argentine competes with a pampas-grass Blue all its own. But France and England are the leaders in this line, France first with a sort of triple triumvirate within a triumvirate—Septmoncel, Gex, and Sassenage, all three made with three milks mixed together: cow, goat and sheep. Septmoncel is the leader of these, made in the Jura mountains and considered by many French caseophiles to outrank Roquefort.

This class of Blue or marbled cheese is called fromage persillé, as well as fromage bleu and pate bleue. Similar mountain cheeses are made in Auvergne and Aubrac and have distinct qualities that have brought them fame, such as Cantal, bleu d’Auvergne Guiole or Laguiole, bleu de Salers, and St. Flour. Olivet and Queville come within the color scheme, and sundry others such as Champoléon, Journiac, Queyras and Sarraz.

Of English Blues there are several celebrities beside Stilton and Cheshire Stilton. Wensleydale was one in the early days, and still is, together with Blue Dorset, the deepest green of them all, and esoteric Blue Vinny, a choosey cheese not liked by everybody, the favorite of Thomas Hardy.


Sheila Hibben once wrote in The New Yorker:

I can’t imagine any difference of opinion about Brie’s being the queen of all cheeses, and if there is any such difference, I shall certainly ignore it. The very shape of Brie—so uncheese-like and so charmingly fragile—is exciting. Nine times out of ten a Brie will let you down—will be all caked into layers, which shows it is too young, or at the over-runny stage, which means it is too old—but when you come on the tenth Brie, coulant to just the right, delicate creaminess, and the color of fresh, sweet butter, no other cheese can compare with it.

The season of Brie, like that of oysters, is simple to remember: only months with an “R,” beginning with September, which is the best, bar none.


From Bulgaria to Turkey the Italian “horse cheese,” as Caciocavallo translates, is as universally popular as it is at home and in all the Little Italics throughout the rest of the world. Flattering imitations are made and named after it, as follows:
BULGARIA: Kascaval
GREECE: Kashcavallo and Caskcaval
HUNGARY: Parenica
RUMANIA: Pentele and Kascaval
SERBIA: Katschkawalj
SYRIA: Cashkavallo
TRANSYLVANIA: Kascaval (as in Rumania)
TURKEY: Cascaval Penir

A horse’s head printed on the cheese gave rise to its popular name and to the myth that it is made of mare’s milk. It is, however, curded from cow’s milk, whole or partly skimmed, and sometimes from water buffalo; hard, yellow and so buttery that the best of it, which comes from Sorrento, is called Cacio burro, butter cheese. Slightly salty, with a spicy tang, it is eaten sliced when young and mild and used for grating and seasoning when old, not only on the usual Italian pastes but on sweets.

Different from the many grating cheeses made from little balls of curd called grana, Caciocavallo is a pasta fileta, or drawn-curd product. Because of this it is sometimes drawn out in long thick threads and braided. It is a cheese for skilled artists to make sculptures with, sometimes horses’ heads, again bunches of grapes and other fruits, even as Provolone is shaped like apples and pears and often worked into elaborate bas-relief designs. But ordinarily the horse’s head is a plain tenpin in shape or a squat bottle with a knob on the side by which it has been tied up, two cheeses at a time, on opposite sides of a rafter, while being smoked lightly golden and rubbed with olive oil and butter to make it all the more buttery.

In Calabria and Sicily it is very popular, and although the best comes from Sorrento, there is keen competition from Abruzzi, Apulian Province and Molise. It keeps well and doesn’t spoil when shipped overseas.

In his Little Book of Cheese Osbert Burdett recommends the high, horsy strength of this smoked Cacio over tobacco smoke after dinner:

Only monsters smoke at meals, but a monster assured me that Gorgonzola best survives this malpractice. Clearly, some pungency is necessary, and confidence suggests rather Cacio which would survive anything, the monster said.


Camembert is called “mold-matured” and all that is genuine is labeled Syndicat du Vrai Camembert. The name in full is Syndicat des Fabricants du Veritable Camembert de Normandie and we agree that this is “a most useful association for the defense of one of the best cheeses of France.” Its extremely delicate piquance cannot be matched, except perhaps by Brie.

Napoleon is said to have named it and to have kissed the waitress who first served it to him in the tiny town of Camembert. And there a statue stands today in the market place to honor Marie Harel who made the first Camembert.

Camembert is equally good on thin slices of apple, pineapple, pear, French “flute” or pumpernickel. As-with Brie and with oysters, Camembert should be eaten only in the “R” months, and of these September is the best.

Since Camembert rhymes with beware, if you can’t get the véritable don’t fall for a domestic imitation or any West German abomination such as one dressed like a valentine in a heart-shaped box and labeled “Camembert—Cheese Exquisite.” They are equally tasteless, chalky with youth, or choking with ammoniacal gas when old and decrepit.


The English Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery says:

Cheddar cheese is one of the kings of cheese; it is pale coloured, mellow, salvy, and, when good, resembling a hazelnut in flavour. The Cheddar principle pervades the whole cheesemaking districts of America, Canada and New Zealand, but no cheese imported into England can equal the Cheddars of Somerset and the West of Scotland.

Named for a village near Bristol where farmer Joseph Harding first manufactured it, the best is still called Farmhouse Cheddar, but in America we have practically none of this. Farmhouse Cheddar must be ripened at least nine months to a mellowness, and little of our American cheese gets as much as that. Back in 1695 John Houghton wrote that it “contended in goodness (if kept from two to five years, according to magnitude) with any cheese in England.”

Today it is called “England’s second-best cheese,” second after Stilton, of course.

In early days a large cheese sufficed for a year or two of family feeding, according to this old note: “A big Cheddar can be kept for two years in excellent condition if kept in a cool room and turned over every other day.”

But in old England some were harder to preserve: “In Bath… I asked one lady of the larder how she kept Cheddar cheese. Her eyes twinkled: ‘We don’t keep cheese; we eats it.'”

A Cheshireman sailed into Spain To trade for merchandise; When he arrived from the main A Spaniard him espies. Who said, “You English rogue, look here! What fruits and spices fine Our land produces twice a year. Thou has not such in thine.”
The Cheshireman ran to his hold And fetched a Cheshire cheese, And said, “Look here, you dog, behold! We have such fruits as these. Your fruits are ripe but twice a year, As you yourself do say, But such as I present you here Our land brings twice a day.”

Let us pass on to cheese. We have some glorious cheeses, and far too few people glorying in them. The Cheddar of the inn, of the chophouse, of the average English home, is a libel on a thing which, when authentic, is worthy of great honor. Cheshire, divinely commanded into existence as to three parts to precede and as to one part to accompany certain Tawny Ports and some Late-Bottled Ports, can be a thing for which the British Navy ought to fire a salute on the principle on which Colonel Brisson made his regiment salute when passing the great Burgundian vineyard.

T. Earle Welby,

Cheshire is not only the most literary cheese in England, but the oldest. It was already manufactured when Caesar conquered Britain, and tradition is that the Romans built the walled city of Chester to control the district where the precious cheese was made. Chester on the River Dee was a stronghold against the Roman invasion.

It came to fame with The Old Cheshire Cheese in Elizabethan times and waxed great with Samuel Johnson presiding at the Fleet Street Inn where White Cheshire was served “with radishes or watercress or celery when in season,” and Red Cheshire was served toasted or stewed in a sort of Welsh Rabbit. (See Chapter 5.)

The Blue variety is called Cheshire-Stilton, and Vyvyan Holland, in Cheddar Gorge suggests that “it was no doubt a cheese of this sort, discovered and filched from the larder of the Queen of Hearts, that accounted for the contented grin on the face of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland.”

All very English, as recorded in Victor Meusy’s couplet:
Dans le Chester sec et rose A longues dents, l’Anglais mord.
In the Chester dry and pink The long teeth of the English sink.

Edam and Gouda

Edam in Peace and War

There also coming into the river two Dutchmen, we sent a couple of men on board and brought three Holland cheeses, cost 4d. a piece, excellent cheeses.

Pepys’ Diary, March 2,1663

Commodore Coe, of the Montevidian Navy, defeated Admiral Brown of the Buenos Ayrean Navy, in a naval battle, when he used Holland cheese for cannon balls.

The Harbinger (Vermont), December 11, 1847

The crimson cannon balls of Holland have been heard around the world. Known as “red balls” in England and katzenkopf, “cat’s head,” in Germany, they differ from Gouda chiefly in the shape, Gouda being round but flattish and now chiefly imported as one-pound Baby Goudas.

Edam when it is good is very, very good, but when it is bad it is horrid. Sophisticated ones are sent over already scalloped for the ultimate consumer to add port, and there are crocks of Holland cheese potted with sauterne. Both Edam and Gouda should be well aged to develop full-bodied quality, two years being the accepted standard for Edam.

The best Edams result from a perfect combination of Breed (black-and-white Dutch Friesian) and Feed (the rich pasturage of Friesland and Noord Holland).

The Goudas, shaped like English Derby and Belgian Delft and Leyden, come from South Holland. Some are specially made for the Jewish trade and called Kosher Gouda. Both Edam and Gouda are eaten at mealtimes thrice daily in Holland. A Dutch breakfast without one or the other on black bread with butter and black coffee would be unthinkable. They’re also boon companions to plum bread and Dutch cocoa.

“Eclair Edams” are those with soft insides.

Emmentaler, Gruyère and Swiss
When the working woman Takes her midday lunch, It is a piece of Gruyère Which for her takes the place of roast.
Victor Meusy

Whether an Emmentaler is eminently Schweizerkäse, grand Gruyère from France, or lesser Swiss of the United States, the shape, size and glisten of the eyes indicate the stage of ripeness, skill of making and quality of flavor. They must be uniform, roundish, about the size of a big cherry and, most important of all, must glisten like the eye of a lass in love, dry but with the suggestion of a tear.

Gruyère does not see eye to eye with the big-holed Swiss Saanen cartwheel or American imitation. It has tiny holes, and many of them; let us say it is freckled with pinholes, rather than pock-marked. This variety is technically called a niszler, while one without any holes at all is “blind.” Eyes or holes are also called vesicles.

Gruyère Trauben (Grape Gruyère) is aged in Neuchâtel wine in Switzerland, although most Gruyère has been made in France since its introduction there in 1722. The most famous is made in the Jura, and another is called Comté from its origin in Franche-Comté.

A blind Emmentaler was made in Switzerland for export to Italy where it was hardened in caves to become a grating cheese called Raper, and now it is largely imitated there. Emmentaler, in fact, because of its piquant pecan-nut flavor and inimitable quality, is simulated everywhere, even in Switzerland.

Besides phonies from Argentina and countries as far off as Finland, we get a flood of imported and domestic Swisses of all sad sorts, with all possible faults—from too many holes, that make a flabby, wobbly cheese, to too few—cracked, dried-up, collapsed or utterly ruined by molding inside. So it will pay you to buy only the kind already marked genuine in Switzerland. For there cheese such as Saanen takes six years to ripen, improves with age, and keeps forever.

Cartwheels well over a hundred years old are still kept in cheese cellars (as common in Switzerland as wine cellars are in France), and it is said that the rank of a family is determined by the age and quality of the cheese in its larder.

Feta and Casere

The Greeks have a name for it—Feta. Their neighbors call it Greek cheese. Feta is to cheese what Hymettus is to honey. The two together make ambrosial manna. Feta is soft and as blinding white as a plate of fresh Ricotta smothered with sour cream. The whiteness is preserved by shipping the cheese all the way from Greece in kegs sloshing full of milk, the milk being renewed from time to time. Having been cured in brine, this great sheep-milk curd is slightly salty and somewhat sharp, but superbly spicy.

When first we tasted it fresh from the keg with salty milk dripping through our fingers, we gave it full marks. This was at the Staikos Brothers Greek-import store on West 23rd Street in Manhattan. We then compared Feta with thin wisps of its grown-up brother, Casere. This gray and greasy, hard and brittle palate-tickler of sheep’s milk made us bleat for more Feta.


Gorgonzola, least pretentious of the Blues triumvirate (including Roquefort and Stilton) is nonetheless by common consent monarch of all other Blues from Argentina to Denmark. In England, indeed, many epicures consider Gorgonzola greater than Stilton, which is the highest praise any cheese can get there. Like all great cheeses it has been widely imitated, but never equaled. Imported Gorgonzola, when fruity ripe, is still firm but creamy and golden inside with rich green veins running through. Very pungent and highly flavored, it is eaten sliced or crumbled to flavor salad dressings, like Roquefort.

Hablé Crème Chantilly

The name Hablé Crème Chantilly sounds French, but the cheese is Swedish and actually lives up to the blurb in the imported package: “The overall characteristic is indescribable and delightful freshness.”

This exclusive product of the Walk Gärd Creamery was hailed by Sheila Hibben in The New Yorker of May 6, 1950, as enthusiastically as Brillat-Savarin would have greeted a new dish, or the Planetarium a new star:

Endeavoring to be as restrained as I can, I shall merely suggest that the arrival of Crème Chantilly is a historic event and that in reporting on it I feel something of the responsibility that the contemporaries of Madame Harel, the famous cheese-making lady of Normandy, must have felt when they were passing judgment on the first Camembert.

Miss Hibben goes on to say that only a fromage à la crème made in Quebec had come anywhere near her impression of the new Swedish triumph. She quotes the last word from the makers themselves: “This is a very special product that has never been made on this earth before,” and speaks of “the elusive flavor of mushrooms” before summing up, “the exquisitely textured curd and the unexpectedly fresh flavor combine to make it one of the most subtly enjoyable foods that have come my way in a long time.”

And so say we—all of us.

Hand Cheese

Hand cheese has this niche in our Cheese Hall of Fame not because we consider it great, but because it is usually included among the eighteen varieties on which the hundreds of others are based. It is named from having been molded into its final shape by hand. Universally popular with Germanic races, it is too strong for the others. To our mind, Hand cheese never had anything that Allgäuer or Limburger hasn’t improved upon.

It is the only cheese that is commonly melted into steins of beer and drunk instead of eaten. It is usually studded with caraway seeds, the most natural spice for curds.


Limburger has always been popular in America, ever since it was brought over by German-American immigrants; but England never took to it. This is eloquently expressed in the following entry in the English Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery:

Limburger cheese is chiefly famous for its pungently offensive odor. It is made from skimmed milk, and allowed to partially decompose before pressing. It is very little known in this country, and might be less so with advantage to consumers.

But this is libel. Butter-soft and sapid, Limburger has brought gustatory pleasure to millions of hardy gastronomes since it came to light in the province of Lüttich in Belgium. It has been Americanized for almost a century and is by now one of the very few cheeses successfully imitated here, chiefly in New York and Wisconsin.

Early Wisconsiners will never forget the Limburger Rebellion in Green County, when the people rose in protest against the Limburger caravan that was accustomed to park in the little town of Monroe where it was marketed. They threatened to stage a modern Boston Tea Party and dump the odoriferous bricks in the river, when five or six wagonloads were left ripening in the sun in front of the town bank. The Limburger was finally stored safely underground.


Livarot has been described as decadent, “The very Verlaine of them all,” and Victor Meusy personifies it in a poem dedicated to all the great French cheeses, of which we give a free translation:
In the dog days In its overflowing dish Livarot gesticulates Or weeps like a child.

At the diplomatic banquet One must choose his piece. All is politics, A cheese and a flag.
You annoy the Russians If you take Chester; You irritate the Prussians In choosing Münster.
Victor Meusy

Like Limburger, this male cheese, often caraway-flavored, does not fare well in England. Although over here we consider Münster far milder than Limburger, the English writer Eric Weir in When Madame Cooks will have none of it:

I cannot think why this cheese was not thrown from the aeroplanes during the war to spread panic amongst enemy troops. It would have proved far more efficacious than those nasty deadly gases that kill people permanently.

If the cream cheese be white Far fairer the hands that made them.
Arthur Hugh Clough

Although originally from Normandy, Neufchâtel, like Limburger, was so long ago welcomed to America and made so splendidly at home here that we may consider it our very own. All we have against it is that it has served as the model for too many processed abominations.

Parmesan, Romano, Pecorino, Pecorino Romano

Parmesan when young, soft and slightly crumbly is eaten on bread. But when well aged, let us say up to a century, it becomes Rock of Gibraltar of cheeses and really suited for grating. It is easy to believe that the so-called “Spanish cheese” used as a barricade by Americans in Nicaragua almost a century ago was none other than the almost indestructible Grana, as Parmesan is called in Italy.

The association between cheese and battling began in B.C. days with the Jews and Romans, who fed cheese to their soldiers not only for its energy value but as a convenient form of rations, since every army travels on its stomach and can’t go faster than its impedimenta. The last notable mention of cheese in war was the name of the Monitor: “A cheese box on a raft.”

Romano is not as expensive as Parmesan, although it is as friable, sharp and tangy for flavoring, especially for soups such as onion and minestrone. It is brittle and just off-white when well aged.

Although made of sheep’s milk, Pecorino is classed with both Parmesan and Romano. All three are excellently imitated in Argentina. Romano and Pecorino Romano are interchangeable names for the strong, medium-sharp and piquant Parmesan types that sell for considerably less. Most of it is now shipped from Sardinia. There are several different kinds: Pecorino Dolce (sweet), Sardo Tuscano, and Pecorino Romano Cacio, which relates it to Caciocavallo.

Kibitzers complain that some of the cheaper types of Pecorino are soapy, but fans give it high praise. Gillian F., in her “Letter from Italy” in Osbert Burdett’s delectable Little Book of Cheese, writes:

Out in the orchard, my companion, I don’t remember how, had provided the miracle: a flask of wine, a loaf of bread and a slab of fresh Pecorino cheese (there wasn’t any “thou” for either) … But that cheese was Paradise; and the flask was emptied, and a wood dove cooing made you think that the flask’s contents were in a crystal goblet instead of an enamel cup … one only … and the cheese broken with the fingers … a cheese of cheeses.

Pont L’Evêque

This semisoft, medium-strong, golden-tinted French classic made since the thirteenth century, is definitely a dessert cheese whose excellence is brought out best by a sound claret or tawny port.

Port-Salut (See Trappist)


Within recent years Provolone has taken America by storm, as Camembert, Roquefort, Swiss, Limburger, Neufchâtel and such great ones did long before. But it has not been successfully imitated here because the original is made of rich water-buffalo milk unattainable in the Americas.

With Caciocavallo, this mellow, smoky flavorsome delight is put up in all sorts of artistic forms, red-cellophaned apples, pears, bells, a regular zoo of animals, and in all sorts of sizes, up to a monumental hundred-pound bas-relief imported for exhibition purposes by Phil Alpert.


Homage to this fromage! Long hailed as le roi Roquefort, it has filled books and booklets beyond count. By the miracle of Penicillium Roqueforti a new cheese was made. It is placed historically back around the eighth century when Charlemagne was found picking out the green spots of Persillé with the point of his knife, thinking them decay. But the monks of Saint-Gall, who were his hosts, recorded in their annals that when they regaled him with Roquefort (because it was Friday and they had no fish) they also made bold to tell him he was wasting the best part of the cheese. So he tasted again, found the advice excellent and liked it so well he ordered two caisses of it sent every year to his palace at Aix-la-Chapelle. He also suggested that it be cut in half first, to make sure it was well veined with blue, and then bound up with a wooden fastening.

Perhaps he hoped the wood would protect the cheeses from mice and rats, for the good monks of Saint-Gall couldn’t be expected to send an escort of cats from their chalky caves to guard them—even for Charlemagne. There is no telling how many cats were mustered out in the caves, in those early days, but a recent census put the number at five hundred. We can readily imagine the head handler in the caves leading a night inspection with a candle, followed by his chief taster and a regiment of cats. While the Dutch and other makers of cheese also employ cats to patrol their storage caves, Roquefort holds the record for number. An interesting point in this connection is that as rats and mice pick only the prime cheeses, a gnawed one is not thrown away but greatly prized.

Sapsago, Schabziger or Swiss Green Cheese

The name Sapsago is a corruption of Schabziger, German for whey cheese. It’s a hay cheese, flavored heavily with melilot, a kind of clover that’s also grown for hay. It comes from Switzerland in a hard, truncated cone wrapped in a piece of paper that says:

To be used grated only
Genuine Swiss Green Cheese
Made of skimmed milk and herbs

To the housewives! Do you want a change in your meals? Try the contents of this wrapper! Delicious as spreading mixed with butter, excellent for flavoring eggs, macaroni, spaghetti, potatoes, soup, etc. Can be used in place of any other cheese. Do not take too much, you might spoil the flavor.

We put this wrapper among our papers, sealed it tight in an envelope, and to this day, six months later, the scent of Sapsago clings ’round it still.


Honor for Cheeses

Literary and munching circles in London are putting quite a lot of thought into a proposed memorial to Stilton cheese. There is a Stilton Memorial Committee, with Sir John Squire at the head, and already the boys are fighting.

One side, led by Sir John, is all for a monument.

This, presumably, would not be a replica of Stilton itself, although Mr. Epstein could probably hack out a pretty effective cheese-shaped figure and call it “Dolorosa.”

The monument-boosters plan a figure of Mrs. Paulet, who first introduced Stilton to England. (Possibly a group showing Mrs. Paulet holding a young Stilton by the hand and introducing it, while the Stilton curtsies.)

T.S. Eliot does not think that anyone would look at a monument, but wants to establish a Foundation for the Preservation of Ancient Cheeses. The practicability of this plan would depend largely on the site selected for the treasure house and the cost of obtaining a curator who could, or would, give his whole time to the work.

Mr. J.A. Symonds, who is secretary of the committee, agrees with Mr. Eliot that a simple statue is not the best form.

“I should like,” he says, “something irrelevant—gargoyles, perhaps.”

I think that Mr. Symonds has hit on something there.

I would suggest, if we Americans can pitch into this great movement, some gargoyles designed by Mr. Rube Goldberg.

If the memorial could be devised so as to take on an international scope, an exchange fellowship might be established between England and America, although the exchange, in the case of Stilton, would have to be all on England’s side.

We might be allowed to furnish the money, however, while England furnishes the cheese.

There is a very good precedent for such a bargain between the two countries.

Robert Benchley, in
After 1903—What?

When all seems lost in England there is still Stilton, an endless after-dinner conversation piece to which England points with pride. For a sound appreciation of this cheese see Clifton Fadiman’s introduction to this book.

Taleggio and Bel Paese

When the great Italian cheese-maker, Galbini, first exported Bel Paese some years ago, it was an eloquent ambassador to America. But as the years went on and imitations were made in many lands, Galbini deemed it wise to set up his own factory in our beautiful country. However, the domestic Bel Paese and a minute one-pounder called Bel Paesino just didn’t have that old Alpine zest. They were no better than the German copy called Schönland, after the original, or the French Fleur des Alpes.

Mel Fino was a blend of Bel Paese and Gorgonzola. It perked up the market for a full, fruity cheese with snap. Then Galbini hit the jackpot with his Taleggio that fills the need for the sharpest, most sophisticated pungence of them all.

Trappist, Port-Salut, or Port du Salut, and Oka

In spite of its name Trappist is no rat-trap commoner. Always of the elect, and better known as Port-Salut or Port du Salut from the original home of the Trappist monks in their chief French abbey, it is also set apart from the ordinary Canadians under the name of Oka, from the Trappist monastery there. It is made by Trappist monks all over the world, according to the original secret formula, and by Trappist Cistercian monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani Trappist in Kentucky.

This is a soft cheese, creamy and of superb flavor. You can’t go wrong if you look for the monastery name stamped on, such as Harzé in Belgium, Mont-des-Cats in Flanders, Sainte Anne d’Auray in Brittany, and so forth.

Last but not least, a commercial Port-Salut entirely without benefit of clergy or monastery is made in Milwaukee under the Lion Brand. It is one of the finest American cheeses in which we have ever sunk a fang.