I know Switzerland is considered by most of the world as a “neutral country” and they try very hard not to take sides on issues or disputes across the globe. However, when it comes to consuming and producing cheese I’m pretty sure they’ve got a bone to pick with Uncle Sam and his bastardization of real “Swiss cheese”. After all, they pride themselves on such little things like attention to detail and if the quality of a Swiss watch is any indicator in comparison to their cheese making ability, they probably have a legitimate beef. Shit, some of their home grown products don’t even have holes in them.
Where is the United Nations when you need them?
"Pessimism is as American as apple pie - frozen apple pie with a slice of processed cheese.” – George Will
Here in the States the term “Swiss cheese” is really a misnomer and has become somewhat a generic term used to describe any kind of cheese with holes in it. It’s usually produced in bulk and you can buy it sliced, shredded or prepackaged in just about any grocery store, supermarket or delicatessen throughout the land. Depending on whose cheese you’re willing to buy, the color will vary from pale yellow to white. It’s made from pasteurized cow’s milk and is only aged for about four months. Compare that to the real McCoy’s of Emmental and Gruyere. They both take anywhere between ten and twelve months to complete the aging process.
From my experience, the domestic product is pretty mild with a slightly nutty aftertaste. I used to hate it as a kid but as my taste buds began to mature, I started to appreciate it a little more but it’s not what I would call a fan favorite.
In fact, it’s bland in comparison to its cousins Emmental and Gruyere and I’m guessing that’s intentional. American cheese producers want to appeal to a mass market and it seems the best way to do that is to take the genuine taste out of the product and get it to market as fast as you can.
On a side note, my adopted home state of Ohio can lay claim to housing the largest producer of what we Americans call Swiss cheese in the world. The Brewster Dairy, located in the quaint village of Brewster, Ohio (population 2,324 in 2000) churns out about 85 million pounds of it a year. If I do my math correctly, that works out to about 36,575 pounds of cheese for every man, woman and child that lives there and about 232,875 pounds a day.
That my friends, is a lot of cheese.