Cheese Thought

Quality of Taste and How it Correlates to an Understanding of Production

My time at Formaggio Kitchen teaches, and will continue to teach me, about the true definition of quality.  Here we are, catering to an old money market who can afford our fine products.    Yet the more we understand the back story to how these products are made, we can understand what makes them expensive and rarities in a mass marketing system.  The more we create a definition between different types of production of one seemingle simple product, the more we can control our food economy, and gain insight into what industries are successful without sacrificing the meticulous, artistic processing.  This happens within the field of affinage; it happens within the field of balsamic vinegars, prosciutto di parma.  Let us unveil the mysteries of distribution.  Education about these products is the first step.  An open palate is the next step.  Correction: an open, yet discerning and inquisitive palate.  A palate that does not fear to be challenged  A palate that attempts to understand cultural differences.  A palate that can accept yeasty, acetone flavors, but knows the difference between a well rounded batch of food and one that may have come out imbalanced.  How does one identify imbalanced flavors?  By identifying the balanced product.  By creating a differentiation between the medicinal, historical qualities of a product to mass production.  By understanding the body’s relationship to food.  And by making compromises in processing and labelling  to appease the market.  Let’s be smart about what is profitable and still holds a high standard and understanding of quality.

The point is not to return to some unbeknownst romantic era of batches of food made only in the home and through preservation techniques.  The point is to understand that historical context and adapt to a global market of sharing and preserving that knowledge.

Us microbiological fiends of the US should look at this as an opportunity to understand our food better…how yeast relates to heat and enzymes.  How yeast is also not necessarily a bad thing.  How the taste of the animal comes through in a raw cheese and how much should this animal be stifled?  Shall the animal flavor arrive on the finish as an afterthought?  In most cases, I would say yes, because the animal is the vessel in which we taste the essence of the earth:  the soil, the grasses, the sugars, the enzymes.  A hint of animal is desirable.  Perhaps it is not liked by all who taste it.  But its balance of bacteria, yeasts, enzymes yield a well rounded profile of exacting production.

My intention from this point forth is to focus on varieties of food production and forge definitions of quality.

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