If you think of cheese and you’re British, you probably think of cheddar. If you think of cheese and you’re French, then I don’t know what you think of, but it’s probably a word with a lot of phlegm in it or something sexual. If you’re British and you think of cheese from France, then you think of blue cheese. If you think of cheese from Norway and you’re from outside of Scandinavia you might think of yellow snow… or nothing at all. Little did you know, Norway produces cheese, not of the blue variety, but of the brown.
Now I don’t think assigning the colour blue to a variety of cheese gives it a particularly appetising sound – even if I’d eat it off of the floor (it’s so good!) – but brown? It’s really not the colour you want to be associated with in a food product. Other foods that display the same flamboyance in colour include: brown bread (everyone knows white bread is better), chocolate, where the colour is ignored in favour of cocaine like levels of sugar, and coffee, which the 21st century is built on. So is brown cheese as disgusting as it sounds, or are the Norwegians hiding something from the rest of the world akin to chocolate and coffee?
My first experience of Norwegian food was in England. This was not in a Norwegian restaurant but was a suggestion from my girlfriend to try brunost, or brown cheese as it literally translates to.
“Brown cheese?” I said, “Three questions? Why is it brown? What’s it made out of? And did I upset you in some way?”
I didn’t upset her; she genuinely thought I might like it, so let’s backtrack from question number three.
It’s brownish – kinda burnt orange in colour, if you want to get fancy – and cut up with a cheese slicer (which I had never heard of before living in Norway, another overlooked Norwegian achievement) into long slices that give it that American burger cheese look (I’m really selling it right) served on bread.Basically it’s made out of a product that appears when curdling milk, which we call “the whey”. However this is not “the way” that we usually make cheese, most cheeses are made without the whey, which is thrown “away”. Home and Awaaay, God that was a bad show, Australia sure knows how to make them, (sorry slight tangent, starting to go way off).
Wikipedia describes whey as:
“…milk serum the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained.”
Maybe it could be their new slogan?
So basically it’s the gunk left over after you’ve pushed all the curdled milk through a strainer. Mmmm.
It’s then mixed with cream and milk, which is heated through to caramelise giving it its distinctive brown colour.
It’s really niiiice, for want of a better word. Seriously. I like it, even if it is a soft squishy brown product. It’s not coffee or chocolate, but nevertheless it’s poor choice of colouring doesn’t do it justice.
It tastes kind of creamy with a bit of a tang at the end, does that make sense? Sounds like something a food critic would say… onomatopoeic sounding words that mimic the way something tastes. That makes sense… I’ve also heard it described as tasting of caramel, which I guess does makes sense seeing as I just wrote above it’s made from caramelised milk.
Definitely a caramel tang to it. Notes of citrus with a pung of sassafras.
I made that last part up. It doesn’t pung of sassafras. Although spellcheck informs me sassafras is in fact a real word and not just something you say with jazz hands – Google has further informed me it is “one of three extant and one extinct trees” – who knew?
So now most mornings I have brown cheese for breakfast on a slice of bread, like real Norwegians, alongside coffee, like everyone else in the world!