What’s in a Name?

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

What’s in a name?

Ever stop for a minute to think about how some of your favorite cheeses got their names? If you’re a geek like me, you’ve puzzled over it, and perhaps even done a little detective work to figure it out. In France and Spain and Italy, cheeses were named after a whole host of things, but the most common way to name a cheese was to name it after the town or region in which it was produced. It makes sense. That cheese is the stamp, more or less, of it’s place of origin, and nobody could (in theory anyways) duplicate it. Thus were begotten Comte, Camembert, Manchego… the list goes on and on.

However, here in the US, our cheese makers have taken a more novel approach. Not being bound to any local cheese making tradition, farmers have decided to name their cheeses after a crazy multitude of things ranging from traditional dances to their Ukrainian interns. I delight in getting new cheeses from farmers who flex their creative muscles and give their cheeses sprightly and inventive names.

Here are some of my top contenders for best original cheese name:

Barick Obama:
(Lazy Lady Farm, Westfield VT)
Laini Fondiller has got to have one of the busiest brains in the cheese biz. Not only is she relentless about inventing new cheeses (I think her average is about one a week) she isn’t shy about giving them some pretty hilarious names. Barick is a little paving stone shaped cheese of buttery, creamy, earthy cows’ milk cheese with a beautiful washed rind kissed by patches of purplish and yellow mold.

(Woodcock Farm, Weston VT)
Can you name this animal? My first guess was some sort of rugged take on the Labradoodle, that canine sensation that swept the country a while back. Thankfully, I was wrong. Timberdoodle is just a Vermonter’s way of saying Woodcock, which according to my dictionary is a game bird with brownish plumage, a long bill, and short stubby legs. My opinion may be biased, but I think I’d rather eat the cheese! Timberdoodle is a mixed cow and sheeps’ milk cheese with a light and nutty washed rind. The extra density and fat of the sheeps’ milk gives it a supple and pliant texture that’ll make you crow.

Constant Bliss:
(Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro VT)
With a name like this, who could resist?! Actually, Constant Bliss is both a man and a cheese. In the town of Greensboro, there is a monument near Willy’s store tdedicated to some ill fated soldiers who met their demise in the great Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Constant Bliss and Moses Sleeper were their names, and if I were a cheese maker, I think I would have picked the former as well. Maybe old Moses’ll get his day in the sun someday soon… A good name for a new local beer or moonshine perhaps? Constant Bliss is a little marshmallowy lump of delicious and creamy cows’ milk cheese, all gooey around the edges with a thick and rich center.

One thought on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Constant Bliss is one of my favorite American cheeses… it’s really wonderful! It’s cool to know it was named after a person, not just the state it inspires when you eat it!

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