Taste The World
Cheese and pates make delicious appetizers or hors d'oeuvres for any gourmet gathering.
Most historians believe that cheese originated as early as 8000 B.C., when Middle Eastern desert riders, carrying milk in pouches made from animals' stomachs, discovered it had separated.
Pate and foie gras have similarly uncertain beginnings. It is thought that some peasant farmer had a goose that gorged itself on grain and the farmer eventually discovered the goose's "fatty liver."
People have been eating, making and perfecting cheese for eons. Today, there are more than 2,000 varieties of cheese worldwide. Cheese can be made from the milk of any animal. Many of the more popular cheeses are made from cows' and goats' milk, but reindeer, camel's and llama's milk can all be used to make cheese.
Cheddar and mozzarella are the two biggest selling cheeses, but there are many other interesting and tasty cheeses:
- Blue: semi-soft, crumbly and very tangy cheese, veined with blue marbling.
- Brie: solid (no holes) creamy white cheese that goes great with fresh fruits.
- Edam: light yellow, semi-hard cheese originally from Holland.
- Feta: crumbly cheese often packed in brine, popularly associated with Caesar salad.
- Monterey Jack: invigorating cheese created in California in 1895 by a Scottish immigrant.
- Parmesan: soft yellow, robust cheese, often grated. True Parmagiano is aged four years.
- Romano: also called Pecorino, this robust, versatile cheese deserves more attention in America.
- Swiss: soft, sweet cheese. Like other cheeses, the baby type is milder. Holes form while aging.
Pates and foie gras
Pate is an hors d'oeuvre made from minced liver. It is often used as a spread, on crackers or bread.
Foie gras, from the French for "fatty liver," is true gourmet pate. Foie gras geese are specially raised.
Many gourmet gift baskets highlight cheeses and pates.