Know Your Cheese!

By Lauren Boyle

January 22, 2010 — Know Your Cheese Rarely are college students given an opportunity to attend an event where the adjectives to describe it are both “delicious” and “educational.” But students had that opportunity when the Hospitality Management program, the Culinary Arts and Food Science Program, Sigma Xi, the Department of Biology, and the College of Arts and Sciences, invited Drexel students to “know their cheese.”

Talking about the science of cheese, Dr. Philip Handel, associate professor of hospitality management, suggested that, “Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality.” What he meant is that cheese is essentially milk in a more preserved form. A combination of varying milks, proteins, fats, enzymes, acids, and water, cheeses can take on various textures and flavors depending on the length of its ripening process. The softer and more potent the cheese, the longer it’s had to ripen.

Dr. Shivanthi Anandan, associate professor of biology, addressed some of the potentially dangerous illnesses which can come from cheese, especially raw milk cheeses. These cheeses have not been pasteurized. Consequently many of the bacteria and microorganisms which would normally be killed in that heating process have the potential to grow. Bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella can cause serious medical ailments, but can be avoided by properly storing cheeses and by being wary of the cheese’s expiration date.

The talk was followed by a cheese tasting with Chef Adrienne Hall, assistant teaching profess in the culinary arts. Hall selected delectable cheeses of various textures and flavors for the audience to sample, including Pecorino Romano (a hard, Italian cheese made with sheep’s milk,) Jarlsberg (a semi-firm, Norwegian cheese made with cow’s milk,) and Laura Chenel Chevre (a soft, American cheese made with goat’s milk.)

Walking away with a tasty treat and some practical advice for the kitchen, Drexel students gained a deeper and multifaceted perspective on one of the world’s favorite foods.

Lauren Boyle graduated in June of 2010 with a B.A. in English.