Cheese and I have had quite the complicated relationship
For most of my life I despised cheese.
At age ten, my favourite restaurant in the whole wide world was a trendy Notting Hill (London) enclave named Zucca, and I loved it because there was a garlic pizza on the menu- a pizza topped with garlic and herbs. Nothing else. No unwelcome elastic and white dairy byproducts and no need to endure disapproving looks regarding my sneaky mozzarella abortions.
You see, shunning cheese as a child is quite an uncommon and inconvenient situation to be in. Please keep in mind this is before I had even heard of veganism or lactose intolerance or any of the other dietary constraints of the world that avoid it’s consumption. Plus, to compound onto that, I am half Scandinavian. Scandinavians are one of the few species of people in the world who have the proper enzymes to digest lactose, not to mention the fact that cheese is practically at the base of the Nordic food pyramid. And cheese is everywhere. In pasta, on salads, on pizzas, in quesadillas, even in desserts! There is no escaping le grand fromage!
Plus, I’ve always resented milk- it’s taste, status as a thin white liquid, and the way one’s cup smells and looks (that horrid foggyness) post-consumption. Therefore, calcium deficiency was a major concern for my parents (and this was indeed the era prior to Fage if I may add).
What changed? I chose to give cheese a chance when I had to gain weight my senior year of high school. I started with a little parmigiano reggiano in my artichoke risotto- then a bit of pepper jack or fontina in my paninis and soon enough I was ordering pizzas with gruyere, grana, romano, asiago, feta, and even gorgonzola! Then I moved on to the universally desired creamy and supple wedges of Brie and Camembert. And now I have three major opinions about cheese, or rather formaggio/fromage:
1) If it has a posh French or Italian name and is probably imported and sometimes even given as a housewarming gift, I will gladly have it and savour it. I believe in the fine things in life (especially with food). Having said that, I will never dare touch anything bearing the Kraft logo, anything pre-sliced (I just cannot stand the idea of cheese being in perfect squares), and anything with a name such as “American cheese”. No.
2) It is delicious. Fromage can turn something from bland to scrumptious- there really is nothing like a slab of camembert on a hot freshly baked hunk of baguette or a pizza hosting a sea of stretchy bubbling fontina.
3) It IS nutritious! Yes, there is fat in cheese but there is fat in a lot of things and besides we all need a little saturated fat in our diet so if it’s accompanied with 30% of your daily calcium, several grams of protein, and a whole lot of epicurean delight- why not?
Alors, in the name of fromage, I cooked my family dinner tonight- my signature spicy quesadillas:
These tortillas are my favourite, but I suppose you can use any ones you prefer
SARITA’S SIGNATURE QUESADILLAS!
Grilled chicken (finely chopped)
Jalapenos (fresh or jarred…I used fresh…finely chopped)
Red onion (finely chopped)
Black beans (optional)
Mexican shredded cheese blend (mine has cheddar, mozzarella, and monterrey jack)
Spices: Black pepper, smoked paprika (or chipotle spice blend), cumin, red pepper flakes, and cayenne
Eat with: Salsa, hot sauce, and Greek Yogurt (so much better than sour cream!)
Then put those bad chicos in the panini maker and make those pollos loco (tortilla topped with cheese, chicken/bean mix, more cheese) and pressssss until queso is oozin’ out the edges and you got some grill marks!
Just a little fyi: These are a bit (okay, A LOT) on the spicy side- I kind of forget that most people have less jaded taste buds than I do because while my mama proclaimed them delicious she also made it clear that there were a few too many sprinkles of cayenne and hunks of jalapeno getting cozy with the pollo
Easy to make and delicious! Next time I’m thinking of making some sort of a lime shrimp rendition! Or perhaps gourmet quesadillas with courgettes!
Are you a fan of cheese?
Favourite cheesy dish?
How have your tastes changed since childhood? Anything you used to resent and now can’t live without?