If you live in one place long enough, you eventually develop a taste for local foods and drinks.
I distinctly remember the first time I tried Rivella.
It was a warm, summer day in August of 1994. The drink was definitely different from anything that I had tried before, and considering that it is made out of milk serum, I remember thinking to myself that it wasn’t half bad. Now I thoroughly enjoy the stuff.
The same can be said of Swiss cheeses, especially Gruyère (or Le Gruyère Appellation d’origine controlée, as it is officially called).
Over the years I have developed quite a fondness for the famous Fribourg fromage. The sharper the taste, the better the cheese in my opinion.
And now, whenever my mother-in-law visits us from the Romandie (French-speaking Switzerland), she almost always brings along about a kilo of Gruyère, purchased directly from the village fromagerie (cheesemaker). As far as cheese goes, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Now, anyone who has ever tried Gruyère knows that the cheese has a very distinct flavor - there is a good reason for its AOC distinction.
The Swiss - as with most anything they undertake - are very particular about the taste and consistency of their cheese.
This being said, you can understand my delight, when, while visiting my parents in California, my mother brought home a big chunk of Gruyère from the grocery store.
Initially I was excited about trying the cheese, but my excitement soon turned into skepticism when I found out that this Gruyère was a Wisconsin-made variety.
Nevertheless, the Wisconsin Gruyère was a product of Emmi, one of Switzerland’s leading cheese producers, so it couldn’t be too far off the mark as far as quality and taste are concerned, right?
Well, anyone can see where this is headed and to make a long story short, let’s just say that I was right for being skeptical about the Wisconsin Gruyère. It’s not that it was a bad cheese.
That wasn’t the case at all. It just had absolutely no business being called Gruyère, and I think anyone who has tasted the real stuff would agree.
And, as it would happen, it looks like people did in fact agree with my assessment. Just last week, Emmi capitulated to pressure from Swiss cheese makers and has decided to no longer call its Wisconsin-made cheese “Gruyère”.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the decision, I guess this just means that I will have to fork out a bit more dough for the real, imported cheese the next time I want to make a decent Swiss meal for my family and friends in the States.
And I guess if I can’t find any real Gruyère, I can always stick to the classic Kraft Macaroni & Cheese out of the box.