An amazing thing happened to me this week: I went from believing that I didn’t like Limburger cheese to realizing that I actually REALLY enjoy it. As my dad would say: “Congratulations, you’ve finally grown up, kid.”
This earth-shattering revelation happened on Wednesday, during a tour and visit to the Chalet Cheese Cooperative near Monroe, Wis. Master Cheesemaker Myron Olson is the only person left in the entire United States making this infamous stinky cheese. Though I’d been to the plant several times before, I always sort of hemmed and hawed myself out of really eating the Limburger, opting to go for the buttery baby swiss Myron makes instead.
But something happened this time. During a course I took at the Center for Dairy Research this week, I learned about how why stinky cheeses are stinky, and during multiple sensory flavor sessions, learned more about the composition of milk, milk solids and those infamous Brevibacterium linens that turn an inconspicuous cheese into something that can clear a room in less than five minutes.
Suddenly, in my mind, Limburger turned from a stinky cheese into an amazing composition of milk, rennet, enzymes, salt and bacteria. Turns out once you break down what Limburger really is, you can train your tongue to actually enjoy it.
Traditionally, Limburger is eaten on dark bread such as Rye or Pumpernickel, with onion slices, mustard and a cold beer. During the early to mid 1900s, this was a popular working man’s lunch, as Limburger was an inexpensive cheese – a poor man’s cheese. The cheese actually originated in Limburg, Belgium. First made in the U.S. in New York, it made its way to Wisconsin in the late 1860s. It never left and is today the only place it’s made in North America.
So the next time you see that little foil-wrapped piece of Limburger on the store shelf, remember, it’s not just a stinky cheese. It’s the perfect combination of milk and bacteria just waiting for you to pair with a cold beer. Enjoy!