Apparently I’ve never made a post here about cheese. I must confess that I’m genuinely astounded because I am a little bit of a cheese-fiend. I always had a marked preference for savoury over sweet as a child and a favoured snack for my small self was cubes of cheese with slices of apple. (I spotted a friend of a friend’s toddler happily munching on that very same snack the other day, causing us all to have fond nostalgia for it, so clearly it’s a getting a baby on solids classic.) Throughout my childhood and into adulthood, I accidentally evolved into the kind of person who if they can possibly add cheese to a dish they will. On crackers, on toast, to thicken a sauce or even in soup. I love cheese. I often joke to people who, on discovering I’m a vegetarian, feel the need to check if I’m a vegan, that I couldn’t possibly give up cheese – ‘giving up meat was easy, giving up cheese, now that would be difficult’. And frankly given how often the only veggie option on offer is macaroni cheese, I’m genuinely glad I like cheese.
For reasons that don’t need explored at this juncture – it was a gift – I happen to own a set of four cheese knives, along with what I think of as a bog-standard cheese knife. (It’s quite old, I think it previously belonged to my parents, I had it as a student due to the aforementioned cheese-fiend status.) I’ve always been a bit baffled as to why there needed to be so many options – surely either cheese is soft enough that you can take a butter knife to it, or hard enough that it needs a specialist cheese knife. It appears I was wrong. Over the last few years I’ve gained a fondness for cheese from the Damn Fine Cheese company – they’re based in Dumfries & Galloway so they’ve become a seasonal treat for me – which is edam-style cheese in a variety of flavours. Theirs is definitely cheese that needs a cheese knife – in fact it was their cheese that made me get my cheese knives out of storage and caused me to bemoan my then landlady’s lack of a cheese knife, in what a dear friend of mine called: ‘the most middle-class thing I’ve ever heard you say’ – though I’ve occasionally had a bit of a fight cutting their cheese although I blamed that on my cheese knife being quite small. For some reason while cutting cheese for crackers the other day I got frustrated with the cheese adhering to the knife and grabbed one of the other options from the box. This was an utter dream, lovely thin slices peeled off the block, ready to apply to crackers.
Clearly I’ve been using the wrong cheese knife. There was only one thing for it; I needed to do some cheese knife research. What else have I been missing out on? Have I needlessly struggled with other cheese when I unknowingly had a tool in the drawer that would have simplified my life? Or could I actually pare down my collection.
Apparently the kind I think of as the ‘bog-standard’ is called a Fork Tipped Spear, good for firm cheeses and serving cheese in general. The one I’d bemoaned the smallness of is a Small Spear, also a hard cheese knife. The knife that came to my rescue was a Flat Cheese Knife which is better for softer cheeses so that fits too. But what about the other cheese knives in my box set? What should I be using them for?
Well for a start one of them isn’t actually a knife it’s a cheese fork, for serving or using like a Carving Fork to spear your older harder cheese in place while you saw chunks off. Realistically for me, it’s strength would be if I’m serving friends a cheese board over the holidays, pairing with the small spear to assist with serving. But the other one, curved like a scimitar with holes in the blade; what’s its game? Well it’s for soft sticky cheese – the camembert, cambozola and castello of the world – which I must confess I tend to only cook with, rather than put on crackers, so I tend to buy in the weight I need for the recipe and then pull apart as necessitated by the recipe. I can see the logic of that knife, even if I personally have no need for it.
I guess there’s nothing for it, there’s no point having this selection of cheese knives and never putting them to use, I need to organise a cheese and wine night for my friends!