Food For Thought: "Say Cheese!"

Posted by Annette Bellisari on


Blue cheese surrounded by figs

If you opened your fridge and found just about any food covered in mold, you would probably throw it away, right? However, as you probably know, blue cheese is riddled with mold — on purpose. In fact, that's exactly what gives it its funky, unusual flavor that you don't get from other cheeses. We’re taught not to eat moldy food! Why would we purposely make it moldy? And who first thought, “mmmm….moldy cheese…yum?! 😜 The truth is that this often misunderstood variety of cheese is very diverse, and even professed blue cheese haters can usually find something to love. 

Blue cheese is one of those foods that people either love or hate. That probably has a lot to do with the incredibly strong flavor of most blue cheese. It's salty, it's pungent, and it has plenty of acidity to it, helping it pair well with a variety of different foods, but it also means that it finds itself shunned on the charcuterie board by those who prefer lighter cheeses.

Even if you're the type of person who eats blue cheese on the regular, there's probably a lot you don't know about this mysterious food. Why does it taste so strong? Where did the mold come from, and how is it even made? 

Scientifically, this story has been debunked, but like with valuable antiques, foods can have romantic provenance too. The history of blue cheese goes back to the 7th century to a cave outside the village of Roquefort in France. Legend has it that a shepherd, distracted by a beautiful woman, forgot his lunch of bread and cheese in the cave. When he returned a few months later, the cheese had become infested with penicillium roqueforti, a mold that was growing in the cave. And thus, blue cheese was born. Today this natural mold is refined and used for almost all blue cheeses simply by adding the mold culture to the cheese milk. 

So, not only is the mold in blue cheese safe to eat, but it's actually supposed to be there. This is a safe process, and you shouldn't worry about getting sick from eating the mold in blue cheese.

If you want to delve into the diverse world of blue cheese, you might want to check out your local cheese counter for Gorgonzola, Fourme D'Ambert, and Cambozola for starters. One thing to keep in mind – don't limit yourself when it comes to blue cheese. Try the different types available to you to see which ones you like best. You may just surprise yourself!

Another easy way to see if blue cheese is for you is to try Bellisari’s hugely popular Blue Cheese, Honey, & Shallot Spread. With the tang of blue cheese, slightly softened by the sweetness of the honey and shallots, this spread is so versatile you’ll want it for every occasion. By itself as a spread on crackers, on a charcuterie board, smeared on your favorite steak, or turned into a sauce, Bellisari’s Blue Cheese, Honey, & Shallot Spread is one of those blue cheese things that even people who say they don’t like blue cheese – like! Pick up a jar today, and you’ll see what I mean. Happy blue cheese tasting from all of us at Bellisari’s!

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