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    Artisanal American Cheese Was Finally on Top of the World, and Then the World Fell Apart

    Source: Jaya Saxena,

    What do you envision when you think of American cheese? Probably not Wisconsin’s squeaky curds or an aged Vermont cheddar. Instead, you most likely see those melty, tangy, flat yellow squares, individually wrapped in plastic and paired with Wonder Bread or a fast-food cheese burger. I happen to love them in a grilled cheese, or stuffed in roti, or slowly melting over dollar ramen. However, the world of American cheese — or rather American-made cheese — is far more complex than Kraft singles.

    In his new book, American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World, Joe Berkowitz hopes to expand what we view as American cheese. Inspired by a tasting event at Murray’s Cheese in Manhattan, he dedicated himself to learning everything he could about American cheese production over the course of a year. What he found was a vibrant world of innovative and experimental techniques, unencumbered by the strict rules and traditions of European cheesemaking. And he’s not the only one making this exciting discovery: Last year, Rogue River Blue, made by Rogue Creamery in southern Oregon, became the first ever American-made cheese to win World’s Best Cheese at the World Cheese Awards in Italy.