American cheese

I rushed to find some Cheez-its on my arrival (I swear, I always liked them but I was never so obsessed until I couldn’t just go to the store and buy them or anything remotely like them!) and got to wondering about American cheese.  First of all, if you buy cheddar here it does not even at all resemble cheddar in the UK.  It’s yellow and the texture is different in the US.  And we have other “yellow” cheeses that I don’t think exist in England, like colby and marbled colby-jack, both favorites of mine.  But even more, we have this thing called “American cheese” that comes in individually-wrapped slices and you put it on a burger or something, and for that I have found no English equivalent.  I tried slices of “Dairylea” once and … um … ew.  I guess it’s a palate thing; the English would probably say the same about “American cheese” (although maybe not since my local McDonald’s is always full…)  But of course, there’s also my childhood favorite, Velveeta.  My loyalty and affection for the stuff is so strong that a friend once told me I would win the Iron Chef Velveeta battle.  It’s an absolutely necessary ingredient for grilled cheese sandwiches, broccoli-cheese soup, queso salsa dip, omelettes,  I could go on and on but I won’t.  For some reason  while thinking about this two other  American cheese products popped into my head.  One was Cheez Whiz, which I don’t think I have ever bought, and the other was Easy Cheese, which I have to confess, is a guilty pleasure.  These three pillars of processing all come from Kraft, as amazingly enough does Dairylea.  Clearly processed cheese is popular the world over, but equally clearly it varies by local environment!

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10 responses to “American cheese

  1. And fudge — don’t forget the Velveeta fudge!

  2. I’ve never made the Velveeta fudge but I knew about it, and I would assume it would be a staple item for the dessert part of the Iron Chef battle Velveeta!!!

  3. A friend of mine buys something that looks like “American Cheese” to use for cheeseburgers – probably from Tesco. Does the American version have the taste and texture of plastic too?

  4. Have you tried Red Leicester, and how does it compare to US “Cheddar”?

    Wikipedia says:

    “Leicester cheese, usually called Red Leicester, is an English cheese, made in a similar manner to cheddar cheese, but is crumblier; it is coloured orange by adding annatto extract during manufacture. ”

    It also says:
    ” In England, Cheddar tends to have a sharp, pungent flavour, often slightly earthy. Its texture is firm, with farmhouse traditional cheddar being slightly crumbly. It is always a pale yellow colour, and food colourings are not used. In parts of the United States and Canada, annatto, extracted from the tropical achiote tree, is used to give Cheddar cheese a deep orange colour. “

  5. I’ve tried red Leicester and it’s not like US cheddar either… US cheddar tends to be smoother and less crumbly even when it is sharp in flavor.

  6. We occasionally find Kraft slices at our local Sainbury’s…have you not seen them?

    Janet

  7. Janet, no I haven’t but… I don’t have a car, and I only have one of those small “metro” urban grocery stores and M&S within easy reach, so no, I have not seen Kraft slices. I shall have to take a taxi out to one of the outer-city large grocery stores to see if I can find some!

  8. I grew up on Velveeta, and didn’t like anything else as a kid. After I grew up, Velveeta seemed like bland glue to me, and “American cheese” is, if anything, even worse. Mostly water, not much flavor. I like very sharp cheddar for cheeseburgers, etc.

    Most process cheeses are lousy, to my taste, except that I admit that Cheez Whiz does still taste OK.

    Maybe I need to go to cheese boot camp.

  9. expatintelligence

    Velveeta, CheezeWhiz, and EasyCheese are really just soft forms of American Cheese.

    Cheddar has a lot of variety, even in the U.S. Try looking at the store for some Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

    I had the best cheddar cheese in Panama a few months ago — only to discover that it was made in Wisconsin!

  10. Pingback: Observed at the grocery store « Not From Around Here

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