Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cheese: Limburger

Limburger cheese gets its name from its historical area of origin: the Duchy of Limburg which was part of what is now the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It is made originally from pasteurized goat milk, but is now made of cow's milk. It is a washed-rind cheese, like Munster. While it ages, it is bathed repeatedly with saltwater inoculated with bacterium. The bacterium on the cheese surface begins to reproduce. It is the bacterium that creates the reddish-gold rind. In the first month it is firm and crumbly, like feta cheese. Then it gets soft along the edges and by two months is mostly creamy and smooth. After three months, it is spreadable and it develops its trademark obnoxious smell. The smell also comes from the bacterium used to ferment the cheese, one of the bacterium that cause human body odor. Limburger is traditionally eaten on rye bread, spread thickly, with a chunk of raw onion. Most Limburger is made in Germany, but there is some made in Monroe, Wisconsin. It is one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die. Despite the smell, the taste is quite mild. My first experience with it was in France when we picked up Rachael from her Study Abroad in Paris. We purchased some, I believe, in Verdun, along with baguettes and other cheeses. I quite liked it, and didn't really notice the smell much. Other family members took note of the smell and I think I'm the only one that was eating it. I left it out overnight in our rental car which elicited a number of complaints due to the smell when we went to the car the next morning. Needless to say we tossed the remaining cheese and it remains a memory that is still brought up occasionally. I bought some Limburger more recently in the U.S., probably at Whole Foods. 
I was not as fond of it this time around and didn't eat much before tossing it. 
I'm not sure what the difference was, perhaps it was more pungent. I probably need to give it another chance before passing a final verdict on it.  

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