Saturday, May 23, 2009

Preposterous Fake

On a recent trip to the Italian market I snagged a real bargain......or so I thought.

Several factors contribute to my family's love of cheese. First and foremost is our proximity to Wisconsin. On a clear day we could see it, if only we weren't living on a landscape that's flat as a pancake.

Wisconsin is all about the cheese..... and the milk.... and the cream. Well, you get the idea. You know those commercials about the California cows? Forget it, in a grudge match the Wisconsin cows would do a smackdown.

Secondly, I was raised in an Italian neighborhood, which means lots of family recipes that include all the fabulous varieties of cheese. If I have the time I drive a little further north to shop at Woodman's, which is a Wisconsin based, employee owned store. When they opened their first store in Illinois I shopped out of curiosity. Omigosh, the refrigerated cheese case is at least 40 feet long and contained every cheese known to man.

On this particular day I didn't have time to drive the extra miles to Woodman's, so I was off to the nearby Italian market. The eggplants were calling my name and I made sure to pick up the additionaly ingredients I'd need to make Eggplant Parmesan. I was surprised to find two pounds of shredded mozzarella cheese at a reasonable price.



I layered my ingredients in a baking dish and when it was hot and bubbly I sprinkled the mozzarella on top and returned it to the oven. A little later when I pulled it from the oven I noticed the cheese hadn't melted. That was odd. My family dug in and as we took the first bite we all looked at each other.

"Yuck, what's this?"

The "cheese" had the consistency of soft rubber bands. Luckily I hadn't layered it with the eggplant and so we scraped the mess off the top and continued with our dinner.

Later I pulled the bag out of the fridge and read the label.



Notice the operative word? IMITATION. Imitation cheese. I'm sorry, there's no way to imitate cheese.

This stuff is nasty and I'm sure it's only one molecule away from being plastic. One thing's for sure, this will teach me to read labels. The price should have been a clue.

Anyway, I'm hoping my friend Heidi, The Milk Man's Wife is too busy to read my blog today because if not.......

18 comments:

JC said...

I learned the hard way too ... low fat cheese does not melt ..

Significant Snail said...

Imitation cheese out to be illegal. There is no substitute for the real thing. I hope someday I get a chance to go to Wisconsin and sample some cheese!

Lucy said...

I think it's amazing when I, too, have bought something that said 'IMITATION' and did not even see it. Why don't we see the word, for crying out loud??

Vee said...

Yup, I'm with you on this one. Even on a diet, I do NOT do imitation cheese or "cheese food." Cheese food? What's that? Nor do I do "lowfat" cheese. I'd rather eat less of the real thing than go the "lowfat" route. I'm sorry that your lesson complicated your Eggplant Parmesan dinner, though. Hope that the parmesan was the real deal.

LDF said...

Yup, that imitation stuff is just WRONG! Somehow I -- your basic carnivorous human -- managed to birth one lactose-intolerant child and two vegans. We tried it all ... imitation, soy ... ICK! One joy of having the little monsters grow up and leave home is being able to stock my larder with the real stuff!

bv said...

i try never to get anything but the 'real' deal-no low fat, no sugar substiute. i remember some cheese food i was trying to make a lg amount of nouchos with. it melted but would not move, couldn't even get the spoon out. chicks would not touch it. i threw out the whole mess, pan and all. how good for you would that be!?
bv

Heidi said...

START SPLAININ!!!!!! LOL

Mogsie said...

imitation cheese needs to be outlawed...

Phillane E'lee said...

How sad, all that work and no cheese. Oh that sounds yummy. been a long time since we have had it. Might have to get out the old pan and make some. You can bet I will be reading my cheese.
Pea

Stellina in Italy said...

Here in Italy, I can't believe how different the cheese is, it's SO good. but our cheese is mostly made fom buffalo milk . Wisconsin cheese is good too, when we lived in South Carolina I would order Parmesan from a company in Wisconsin. I guess you can tell I'm a cheese lover....

Anonymous said...

Imitation cheese is made with oil and not milk. SCARY!

Although I have to admit that I am addicted to orange powder chedder cheese. LOL! Mac and cheese in a box? Check! Cheese-its? Check! Chedder Chex Mix? Check! (To be fair, I can't stand Cheetos...not because of the taste but because of the stain on my fingers! LOL)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm fake cheese powder on popcorn. Now that IS good.

Lynn said...

Stellina,

As a life-long resident of the American West, when you said your cheese was mostly made from buffalo milk, I had a vivid vision of thousands of very active, strong Italians milking large herds of American buffalo, or bison. Not an easy job. Wikipedia soon set me straight about domestic water buffalo and its long history in Italy. Thanks, Farmer's Wife, for my Saturday morning laugh.

Cote de Texas said...

whoa- too funny! from the title i thought it was going to be about a fake antique. But I'm sure it wasn't funny for your family. What is imitation cheese anyway? who would want it?

stellina in italy said...

Lynn,
I know what you mean. The american buffalo does look very different. Here they just look like scary hairy cows. lol .There is actually a huge buffalo farm not far from here within walking distance actually. My mother in law bought some fresh mozzarella today- we had it on the table for lunch. It's called mozzarella di bufala. VERY GOOD. The best thing to come out of Italy in my opinion even better than the wine!

A Joyful Chaos said...

I agree. Imitation cheese is not worth looking at, much less actually eating it!

LibraryGirl said...

I made that mistake also. Ever the bargain hunter and wanting to get the most for my money I bought the imitation Cheddar cheese. Ever have a crumbly quesadilla? NOT SO GOOD!! Don't try it. It definitely does resemble plastic. Maybe we could come up wtih a craft project to use it for? Or maybe use it as a mulch substitute around the flowers? Hmmm... I'll have to think on it.

Jody Blue said...

Yea whats with CA thinking they are the cream of the cow crop??? They don't have "farms" they have milk production facilities. Woodmans is a great store for the most part, the produce in ours isn't the best but will do. The rest of the store makes up for it!--and yes ours has the double sided cheses isle.