Tuesday, June 19, 2007

They Must Have Invented Anti-Cheese

Look, I know this isn't the kind of stuff you really care about, but no reason why that should stop me now because I've made an important discovery on a topic that has flummoxed me since I moved here. Why has cheese become completely tasteless?

I wanted to grab something quick to eat today and had previously picked up some frozen meals and stuck them in the freezer here in the office. Today's tasty offering? Organic macaroni cheese. Yum, bloody, yum. Actually, despite the sarcasm, I really was looking forward to it, dazzled as I must inevitably have been by the use of the word "organic" on the label. I mean, how mouthwateringly wonderful must it therefore be? Macaroni, hand-rolled on the thighs of Italian virgins ... oh wait, that's ridiculous. I'm thinking of cigars. Well actually, I'm now thinking of Italian virgins and coming up with nothing but nuns. Anyway, back on planet earth ... visions of al dente macaroni slathered with a wonderfully pungent sauce, blending together three artisan cheeses from a cow shed somewhere in Tuscany, or the rural bits of France, was all too much. Time to eat.

Put it this way, I should have binned the meal and eaten the box. Blindfolded, I would have said "soggy macaroni, stuck together with flour-and-water paste" because cheese was the one ingredient that it seemed totally devoid of.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not lambasting all American cheeses here. I've found some pretty decent ones that are very competitive with 'yer average Cheddar, Brie or Roquefort (though I have to say that none of them were associated with anything served in a cardboard box).

Clearly, something is amiss, and now I have it figured out: it's the pernicious influence of anti-cheese. In order to avoid making dishes with any sort of flavour, thereby risking some frivolous law suite stemming from a consumer who came away with an actual taste experience, manufacturers add "anti" versions of the main ingredients to keep the taste buds below a minimum level of excitation. Fiendish, incredibly simple and frighteningly effective, a fact borne out by how many of these prepared meals exhibit absolutely no flavour at all.

Very neatly, this also explains why genetically modified ingredients are being fought against. Until the food processing industry can come up with the anti-equivalents, they can't risk this stuff getting into the food chain and dangerously stimulating our taste buds. You read it here first, people.

This is all 100% true. If you don't believe me, go and buy any supermarket frozen meal here in the USA, heat as instructed, eat slowly, savouring all that non-taste, and then tell me I'm crazy!

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