Raw Thought

by Aaron Swartz

Bread and Cheese

It seems like every Western food culture has some combination of bread and cheese as a meal. Americans, simple people, have your basic grilled cheese. But Italians have the pizza. Then there’s the mac-and-cheese. And of course Mexicans with their quesadilla. Then there’s the cheese calzone. Not to mention cheese crepes. Throw in meat and you can also count the famed cheeseburger.

What is so magical about this combination?

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November 23, 2006


I like to survey the “crisps” of the world. (You Americans of course say, “chips”[1].)

The Chinese have prawn crackers (and fortune cookies). Indian cuisine gives us the pappadom (a very large crisp). Mexican food has tortillas AND tacos. I’m sure there are others.

[1] To the British, chips are your “fries”, and a whole way of life. As Bill Hicks said: “I like fries, but come on! Every meal? I’ve seen hookers on London streets crying, ‘Head and chips’.”

posted by Thomas David Baker on November 23, 2006 #

Mexico is part of ‘Western food culture’?

posted by Dez on November 23, 2006 #

Fat + Carbs = Yum. Simple as that I think.

posted by Már on November 23, 2006 #

Re: Thomas and chinese “crips”

Fortune cookies are a japanese or chinese immigrant invention: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortune_cookie#Origins_of_the_fortune_cookie

Prawn crackers are not chinese either: Indonesian and Malaysian http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prawn_cracker

posted by jm on November 24, 2006 #

Pizza may have been made famous by the Italians, but it’s origin came from a Jewish chef in the service of a Sultan in Baghdad. However, you are partly right, that the meat was likely added by somebody else (given that mixing a milk product (cheese) and meat is neither Kosher nor Halal).

However, meat + bread combination also exists in Mediterranean / Middle Eastern cuisine / Indian cuisine e.g. curry inside Naan bread, Gyros.

I don’t think there’s anything magical about this combination. To borrow from Extreme Programming terminology, it’s the simplest thing that could possibly work.

posted by on November 24, 2006 #

Cheese has lots of saturated fat. Many cheeses are mostly saturated fat. As you know, I’m not one for evolutionary explanations of human behavior but I think there might be one here in favor of our love for cheese. It’s often as close to maximum nutrient density as you can get without drinking oil.

Bread (and other starches) provide a way to eat large amount of cheese without destroying our gall bladders or getting our fingers all greasy.

posted by mako on November 24, 2006 #

Bread and Cheese are easily storable foods - when there’s nothing fresh to munch on and you haven’t managed to hunt anything edible, bread (stored grains) and cheese (stored milk) is what you’ve got left.

posted by Tom Berger on November 24, 2006 #

Bread and cheese were both staple foods from early periods of human civilization. People learned to put them together, and it stuck.

posted by Dustin on November 24, 2006 #

Re: Thomas

for chinese crisp

“Sanzi (Deep-Fried Dough Twists)

Sanzi is one of traditional snacks of the Moslems. To make sanzi, use wheat flour mixed with vegetable oil and juice of the Chinese prickly ash. Knead the dough repeatedly, and then divide it into several pieces. Pull the dough into thin noodles and deep-fry in oil until golden yellow. During festivals, every Uygur family makes sanzi to treat guests.” (source: http://www.womenofchina.cn/quintessential_china/food/cuisine/3161.jsp )

posted by gourmet on November 24, 2006 #

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