Sunday, April 30, 2006

Squeaky Cheese Curds

Have I mentioned this Wisconsin delicacy yet? Yes, that ever elusive squeaky cheese curd. I’ll be lifting much of this post directly from Wikipedia because sometimes someone else can say it better. I’ve interspersed a few photos I have harvested from the web.

Give me what you’ve got, Wikipedia:“Fresh curds are roughly the size and shape of peanuts or, perhaps, Cheetos. The flavor is a mild "fresh-dairy" taste. The texture and mouth feel is unique. They have about the same firmness as cheese, but have a springy or rubbery texture, rather than the yielding, clay-like texture of cheese. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into. This squeak is perhaps the defining characteristic of fresh cheese curds.”

There is a stand at the Hillcrest farmers market that sells something called cheese curds – but it really isn’t quite the same. They are more like little hunks of cheese – of course the key here is the freshness – right from the cheese factory. Plenty of dairy is produced in California so they must be able to be found. Any leads? I honestly haven’t looked hard at all. It’s just chedder cheese before it’s been formed into squares and aged.

Help me out here, Wikipedia: “Cheese curds are little-known in locations without cheese factories, because they must be eaten absolutely fresh, within hours of manufacture. After twelve hours, even under refrigeration, they have lost much of their "fresh curd" characteristics, particularly the "squeak." They have not become unwholesome or distasteful, but they are not fresh cheese curds any more—they are simply insufficiently aged cheese.”

That call for purchasing absolutely fresh curds is slightly overrated – we could pick them up in bags at any grocery store – practically the corner drug store – and be pretty happy with them (hopefully they were packed that day or the day before). But to get the best taste and texture with the squeak – you’ve got to get them from the source. (I wouldn't recommend doing that mail order thing.)

And of course it wouldn’t be Wisconsin with deep frying these things – I once ate an egg wrapped in bacon that was dipped in batter and deep fried proving anything is possible – so you can also buy deep fried cheese curds at fairs, local restaurants and bars. Grease covered and filled, it’s a cardiologist’s worst nightmare (well, maybe that egg was – but this is close!) Wikipedia says; “Deep-fried cheese curds are covered with a beer based batter, like to that used for onion rings, or are breaded and placed in a deep fryer.”



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