Le cottage

cottage cheese

If you live in the United States, you probably are going to want to scratch your head at this one. Because it’s about something very common back there, otherwise known as le cottage here in France. Yes, it’s true. I used to take cottage cheese for granted. You could pick up a large tub of it in any grocery store, because somehow, it’s become a fixture in American dairy aisles along with fresh milk (sold by the gallon jugs with handles, which after living with slender liter bottles of milk for so long, seem absolutely gargantuan), yogurt, sour cream, and other creamy goodies.

I used to eat cottage cheese fairly regularly and fell into the ‘large curd’ camp. As some of you might know, there’s the small-curd and the large-curd people, and I like the bigger soft, pillowy blobs of cheese, which rest in their milky liquid, waiting for my spoon to plow into the container and spoon them out. Then there’s the full-fat, low-fat, and non-fat people, but at this point in my life, it’s all moot due to where I live.

I didn’t think I’d miss it so much, but some time after I arrived in France, I noticed something labeled “cottage cheese” in the yogurt aisle. The yogurt aisle in a French supermarket is immense; vast and varied, and it’s gotten harder in the past few years to find regular plain ol’ yogurt amongst the rows and rows of flavors, textures, and colors, that yogurt now comes in. Nestled in between the riot of packages, I pulled the container off the shelf, took a look at the price, scoffed, put it back on the shelf, then picked out my plain yogurt and left.

Yet as the years passed, I kept seeing that premium-priced pot beckoning to me, and it’s hard to describe, but when you live outside of the United States, you start realizing that you not only have to pay more for everyday items in general, but that you’re willing to spend a lot more to pay for things that you just gotta have, no matter what. Thanksgiving is a good time of the year to test your resolve, especially if you want a whole turkey, and it’s very easy to find yourself shelling out the equivalent of a hundred bucks for a whole bird. (Whole turkeys do exist in France, although that week, prices seem to triple if you have an American accent.)

And although I got wise this year and sent Romain to pick up the bird, I couldn’t expect him to understand why I needed breakfast cereal for an apéro snack. So there I was, scouring the stores that cater to expats in Paris, desperate for a box of Chex – with a self-imposed ceiling price of €10 . Yes, I had a craving to mix up a batch of Chex Party Mix and it sadly wasn’t realized, in spite of my allegiance to my culture.

cottage cheese

A lot of people in France think Americans only eat junk food because that’s what gets imported into Europe (along with being influenced by people like me, who write about mixing breakfast cereal with large amounts of salt, butter, peanuts, and pretzel, and serving it before dinner). Invariably what they see are items with very long shelf lives, such bottled salad dressings, Old El Paso guacamole powder, and something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in the US; strawberry-flavored marshmallow Fluff. So it’s no wonder people think we don’t eat well when that’s what’s featured in the rayon américain of le supermarché.

As of yet, there’s no Chino Ranch beets in the produce aisle at the local Monoprix, I haven’t found anyone stocking their bakery baskets with pretzel croissants from City Bakery, and there’s no Strauss organic yogurt mixed in with the salted caramel or pistachio macaron-flavored yogurts.

cheese map of France

Speaking of cheese (or whatever I was speaking of), the French have plenty of great cheeses, but admittedly, they do have an affection for certain anglo foods – even some of the good ones – including le cottage, as they call it. There’s definitely gotta be a market for it since I now see it in most supermarkets. However when I go back to the states and buy a jumbo tub of cottage cheese, I find it insipid and bland. Because I’ve succumbed to the siren song of le cottage, in France. Made by our neighbors in England, one spoonful of this cottage cheese is all I need to shoot me right up to curdled heaven. It’s rich, but not overly so, and tastes like a real product from a cow with real milk overtones and none a drop of watery liquid surrounding the compact, creamy cheese curds.

True, this puny container cost me €1,99 ($2.70) – and it’s always funny to me when people come to visit and say that everything here is so expensive. (And I don’t think many of those tourists are talking about buying whole turkeys.) I always answer, “Yes, we are aware of that.”

cottage cheese

I usually start with the best intentions, rationing myself to eating half of le cottage (which is about five spoonfuls) then putting the rest away for the next day. Yet there I am, a few hours later, digging my spoon in, until I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. But I do try to be prudent and not overdo it in le cottage department, because I need to save up a bit for the next holidays coming up. And it’s going to take a little explaining on my part to hunt down great American delicacies, like cakes packed with sticky-sweet fruit, that we pass on to each other year-after-year, or marshmallow-flavored chickens, available in pink, yellow, and blue.

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  • December 8, 2011 10:33am

    Ahh cottage cheese, I’ve had my fair share longing for cottage cheese but when I tried the Croatian equivalent, it was just so different. I did NOT like it. I’m still trying to find a variety that I like, the way you talk about this version makes me want to go right to England (or France!) and get some to try!

  • Emily
    December 8, 2011 10:53am

    I had big plans to eat cottage cheese while I was in the US over Thanksgiving, but I was too busy stuffing my face with Mexican food. I think it’s hard to explain the weird food cravings expats experience. The cottage cheese here is delicious, but I just can’t enjoy it the same way when I am paying through the nose for it.

  • J.T.
    December 8, 2011 11:06am

    Hey Dave, sorry this is related to cottage cheese, but I was wondering that since you have a very Jewish last name were you raised with any sort of Judaic cooking influences in your upbringing? I would love to see some mention of it (only if I am being accurate, sorry if I’m not) in a post one of these days. Oh yeah, I’ve already said this, but I love your blog. Happy Holidays.

  • vrinda
    December 8, 2011 11:12am


    Here I am in Paris in the 4th and to my horror no unsweetened chocolate bars in G detou.
    Just the full size but no broken packages to scoop up.
    But nice store anyway not sure I’d move to Paris for it though !
    Sardine selection excellent
    dairy aisle HUGE
    Keep writing….

  • Annette
    December 8, 2011 11:13am

    I’ve been in France for 18 years now and you’ve just made me crave one of the things i miss the most from the UK. I’d even be happy to pay 1,99 for it, but being an hour away from Paris i’d have to add the train fare!
    Just wondering what you plan to prepare for Christmas lunch/dinner? Do you do traditional French, or American, or a mix? My Dad’s a food writer (Michael Raffael) and i’d rather be sitting down to one of his British Christmas lunches this year than the traditional French one.
    Really enjoy your blog :-)

  • Carolina
    December 8, 2011 11:15am

    Hi David, I’ve lived in Paris for one year and I missed cottage cheese a lot too! I’m from Brazil, so I’m already used to higher prices for the cottage chese…
    When in Paris, I used to buy the Jockey Cottage Cheese, made by Danone. Its better than what I get in Brazil, and maybe less expensive than this one from Longley Farm. Unfortunately, I could only find it in the really big supermarkets, like Géant Casino.

  • December 8, 2011 11:17am

    I find that brand of le cottage to be too rich and prefer the lighter Jockey cottage cheese from Danone. It’s gone up about 30% in the last few years (4 euros for 2 tubs) but I still have it for my breakfast every morning.

  • MsMc
    December 8, 2011 11:17am

    What’s the difference between homemade cottage cheese and homemade ricotta cheese. They seem very similar to me. Are they interchangeable in recipes? Would anyone happen to have a good cheesecake recipe using either of these? The ones I have tried have yielded very dense cakes.

  • anuja
    December 8, 2011 11:23am

    umm isnt it the same as paneer?

  • December 8, 2011 11:38am

    Oh, I love cottage cheese and missed it terribly when I lived in France. Luckily it’s easily available in Germany, although I envy you getting Langley Farm, a favourite of mine. Maybe though Marks and Spencer’s will stock their wonderful cottage cheese with chives and onions or pineapple now I heard they’re reopening in Paris.

  • Stephen
    December 8, 2011 11:57am

    Now that Marks and Spencers have reopened in Paris, it might be worth giving them a try for (lower fat) cottage cheese and also extra thick double cream (for Bourke Street Bakery’s Custard Tarts with Prunes) if you can put up with the queues and the night club-style admission policy.

    BTW, what is so special about a Chino Ranch beet. More to the point, what are Chino Ranch beets and can you find them in the produce aisle at the local Walmart or Target? The Great Google is no help here.


  • gracie
    December 8, 2011 12:51pm

    I absolutely love Longley Farm cottage cheese! I live in Yorkshire, so their dairy products are stocked in all the major supermarkets. I like to eat my cottage cheese with a dash of soy sauce…my boyfriend thinks I’m crazy!

  • Charlie
    December 8, 2011 12:54pm

    Hi David,
    this has prompted a first comment from me, even though I’ve been reading (and loving) for a while now.
    I lived in Yorkshire, UK for 6 years whilst studying, and became addicted to Longley Farm products – particularly their natural yogurt which is intensely creamy and tart, and which means that any yogurt I buy in France tastes of not very much in comparison. Hmmm and their lemon yogurt, and their hazlenut yogurt. Their products are not even sold all over England, so the first time I saw a pot of their cottage cheese in Paris I was quite taken aback. I would love to see their other products over here, but I would settle for any natural yogurt in a big tub – why all the little tubs? you can get fromage blanc in a big tub, why not yogurt……ranting quietly to myself……

  • December 8, 2011 1:07pm

    So funny–my monoprix has been carrying the Longley variety for awhile now, but just recently started carrying two packs of Danone (they call it fromage frais salé) on the package, and it falls more under the large curd category. But it most definitely tastes more rich and luxurious than any american cottage cheese.
    I’ve been buying it on homesick afternoons and eating it with strawberry applesauce like I did when I stayed home from school as a kid.

  • December 8, 2011 1:15pm
    David Lebovitz

    Caroline: It’s funny because my grandmother used to give me cottage cheese with Concord grape jelly and it was so good (!) – although when I tell people about it now, they always make an icky face. Haven’t tried it in years (no Concord grapes, or Concord grape jelly in France..)

    Charlie: I sometimes buy yogurt in bigger containers; most of the natural food stores offer it that way. Bu so far, just the puny containers of le cottage.

    Carolina and Andrea: I’ve not tried the Danone stuff, mostly because I don’t like the colorful plastic packaging. But I suppose one day I’ll break down and try that too.

    Stephen: Chino Ranch is a family-owned specialty produce company in southern California, known for their outstanding vegetables.

  • elemjay
    December 8, 2011 1:16pm

    Is faisselle that different from cottage cheese? I love to eat faisselle for breakfast when I’m in France (not easy to find in the UK) ….

  • tuula
    December 8, 2011 1:40pm

    Longley farm is the nuts. Not a week goes by here that I don’t eat it. Am glad they’re exporting!

  • ron shapley(nyc)
    December 8, 2011 1:49pm

    Who knew Cottage Cheese is such a delicasey…now I guess it is better in France than the states ?? I like it plain with just a little pepper with a hamburger on the side.. Happy Holidays to you and Romain…

  • December 8, 2011 1:56pm

    Hi David!
    It’s a coincidence that you mention cottage cheese today since I recently got my hands on Mollie Katzen books and she uses large curd cottage cheese in place of Indian paneer in some recipes. I have been wondering how large those curds are exactly.

    You may be happy to hear that here in Luxemburg there is some equally delicious cottage cheese locally produced by the local dair company, Luxlait. I dare say the curds re on the small side though!

    On another note, in neighbouring Germany, there is a bakery chain that sells pretzel croissants. They’re not as lovingly made as the ones from City Bakery, which I tried last year thanks to you, but they’re a good enough substitute and don’t necessitate a 12 hour flight to NYC ;-)

    Enjoy your cottage!

  • Vanessa
    December 8, 2011 2:02pm

    Wow i never knew people liked to eat cottage cheese. Then again, i come from singapore so what do i know :) you call $2.70 expensive? wait till you come to singapore! A bottle of yogurt half that size costs around the same price. Plus the yogurt isnt even fantastic :( cheeses are real expensive here too… sigh.

  • December 8, 2011 2:35pm

    Oh my! I wish I can have a spoon of this heavenly cottage cheese. Here, in Quebec we certainly do have a couple of cheesemakers who are preparing great cottage cheese but it’s not that common!

  • Katie
    December 8, 2011 2:48pm

    What Parisian grocery stores carry cottage cheese? Monoprix?

    I love to make cottage cheese pancakes when I’m in the US. mmmmmmm.

  • Shosh
    December 8, 2011 2:52pm

    I live in Israel, and the cottage cheese here is way, way, way better than what I grew up with in Toronto. In fact, it’s such a staple of food here that this past summer while people staged protests about the economy around the world, Israelis protested about the rising price of cottage cheese (and won).

  • Franzel
    December 8, 2011 3:08pm

    I eat the small curd every morning with a bit of fruit. $6.00 for 500grams!

  • Franzel
    December 8, 2011 3:09pm

    That’s in Canada.

  • December 8, 2011 3:23pm

    Just this morning I was having a long-ish discussion with my best friend, who’s lived in the South of France for 15 years, about the site myamericanmarket.com. It’s basically full of American junk food. Iconic food, but mostly crap. Here’s the thing: she was going ga-ga over it because of all the well-loved things eaten in childhood and all the memories attached with those foods. My best friend, like me, has multiple food intolerances and can no longer eat 99% of what’s on that site. She also used to be vegetarian, and then vegan, and is very health-conscious. But there we sat, on the phone, while clicking on links, oooh-ing and aaah-ing at the various products on offer, like frosting from a spray-can in neon green (like that cheesy-spread, right?), darn near tempted to order some up, just because we could! It’s so funny when you have not seen stuff for a long time, and then suddenly grow cravings for things that maybe you might not have touched, ever, “back home” when you see them, finally, available on shelves in your host country.

    Then there’s stuff — relatively healthy stuff — like your cottage cheese here, something I have not thought of in *ages* but was a staple for me back a few years ago. I loved the heck out of it: small curd, large, low-fat, regular fat, whatever! I’m with you, loved the stuff. And I was just doing fine not thinking about it until this post comes along to remind me! :D

    But I guess it just goes to show that the heart wants what the heart wants, or in this case, the tummy. Rock on with your cottage cheese, David, and I hope that it shows up in greater quantities at lower prices soon!

  • Lisa
    December 8, 2011 4:17pm

    Cottage cheese, to me, is my mother’s diet food from the 1970s: Light n’ Lively. Although here in New England Hood brand is ubiquitous, I never thought to eat it until now! Maybe I can blend it with Vermont Creamery creme fraiche and approximate le Cottage.

    • December 8, 2011 4:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      Ha! Thanks for the reminder. I forgot about Light n’ Lively, which I think was many our first forays into “diet” food in the states. You can get some good locally made cottage cheese in the states, such as Cowgirl Creamery in the SF Bay Area and perhaps elsewhere. You just have to hunt it down. (Although it’s always worth it…)

  • Margaret
    December 8, 2011 4:24pm

    What you said about your grandmother reminded me of the best fruit salad my grandmother used to make…lime jello with cottage cheese, pineapple chunks from a can and chopped pecans. Jello, I know, who eats it now but I loved that salad. For light lunches my mom used to serve cottage cheese with yummy homegrown huge summer tomato slices and salt and pepper. To this day I’ve never found tomatos like that again, even at farmer’s markets. She used to go outside of town and buy them from a small grower. Another favorite way I like to eat cottage cheese is with canned pineapple chunks– guess that’s because of granny…

  • December 8, 2011 4:32pm

    Ya know, don’t shoot me, but I’m NOT a cheese eater. I don’t even like dairy products. I don’t digest them well and to be honest, never really cared for the taste. I KNOW. I live in Switzerland. this is sac-religous! Anyhoo… besides really not caring for the word “anyhoo” and cheese, there ARE a few cheese’s I do like: cream cheese, buffulo mozzerella, and cottege cheese. Iin fact I just had it for lunch with some fruit. And it took me a year to find it on the shelves here in the local “COOP.” not that I was looking for it. But when i did see it, OMG, I had to have it. and I”m large curd. thank you very much.

    And yes, when recipes call for cheese or milk, I’m NOT that person who avoids it. i add it. In fact, I enjoy the dimension a bit of dairy gives to my recipes. I just don’t eat all the cheeses and fondu’s that everyone seems to enjoy as appetizers. It’s actually not a bad thing. Makes going to France on vacation very easy on the waistline! :)

  • December 8, 2011 4:41pm

    Hilarious post. Yes, I guess you ARE aware that things are expensive there. I have not thought about cottage cheese in a long while, and now you are making me want some. I will have it the peculiar local Maryland country way–with a big dollop of apple butter over top. (The pair used to routinely appear on relish trays, oddly enough.) Do the French eat apple butter–I think of it as a German-American thing?

  • j in France
    December 8, 2011 4:46pm

    Stumbling upon the Danone cottage is occassional in my middle_sized French city. Formerly called Jockey, I pay the high price, as I treat it as a luxery with my kids. Healthier than Ben & Jerry’s. Overseas, Swiss Migros and keso in Sweden are often in my suitcase.

  • December 8, 2011 4:56pm

    Was waiting for you to do a post about this :) I’m also thrilled to find Fage Greek yogurt at monoprix in its full fat and non fat versions. It doesn’t have added sugar like the French brand version does and it’s super healthy. Now if only OTHER supermarkets would jump on the bandwagon….

  • Peggy
    December 8, 2011 5:06pm

    While living in Geneva in the 80s my biggest craving was for a deli sandwich – thinly sliced turkey with swiss cheese, pickle, mayo, mustard on an onion roll. I craved this almost every single day. And when I’d go home I’d head right to that italian deli and order one and it was just as good as I had dreamed of (not always the case, as you probably know). And then there were the canned corn tortillas from Grand Passage – that’s when I knew I was really desperate but oh boy, those tacos I made were heavenly! Whenever I travel I love to go into grocery stores and we did go to some in Paris (just got back last night) this past week and I was amazed at how global our world has become.

  • Lynn
    December 8, 2011 5:28pm

    Margaret, I wonder if we’re related — my Mom (and then I) used to make a jello mold with lime jello, cottage cheese, and pineapple. (no nuts) It looks like throw-up and no one else will even try it, but I LOVE IT. Lazy man’s version is plain cottage cheese with crushed pineapple. Miam miam! I’ve had cottage cheese here in Paris, but for me it’s not worth the price tag…

  • December 8, 2011 5:38pm

    I’m a big fan of cottage cheese too. I guess we all have our favorite things we’re willing to pay extra for. I grew up in the south (of the U.S.) and now live in Colorado. Occasionally I get a craving for some southern condiment (like hot pepper vinegar) and go all over trying to find it, to no avail. I think, “I have money, I will pay you anything!” It’s funny/ridiculous.

  • Simona Tal
    December 8, 2011 5:59pm

    I’m usually not braggging about Israeli food products, but Cottage cheese , I mean the Israeli cottage cheese, is something else! I’ve had the American, french, english, German and who knows what other cottage and it’s not that! You have to try it once David. I know it’s on the shelves in the USA , so maybe in Paris too in the big department stores, maybe in the kosher food department! even the 3% fat cottage is smooth, silky , delicious. but 5% and 9% are perfect! It’s the first food item I’m devouring when back after my gastronomic tours in France or elsewhere.
    And Shosh is right: the two month social potest this summer began because the price of the cottage raise outrageously.. And it succeeded!!!

  • Margaret
    December 8, 2011 6:01pm

    Hi Lynn — you’re right that jello mold does look like throw-up but sooo good — maybe we are related! My grandmother was from Texas but had ancestors from Alsace via Switzerland. I’ve just recently discovered some of my favorite dishes she made were old french country food but had new names. Maybe the jello mold has french origins somehow–haha…

  • December 8, 2011 6:08pm

    My Dad knew someone who worked for a big dairy. His informant told us that returned, post-dated milk was routinely turned into cottage cheese and that returned cottage cheese became Fudgesicles! Doubtless, le cottage is a superior product.

  • Tobie
    December 8, 2011 6:11pm

    In the SF bay area, we also get Nancy’s cottage which is quite tangy. It’s pretty good.
    I grew up with a pretty dry cottage cheese topped with sour cream. Then my mom chopped scallions, radish and cucumber and added that along with salt and pepper.
    This was great with a piece of good sour rye bread. The description is making my mouth water!

  • December 8, 2011 6:12pm

    I don’t think le cottage has made it down to Provence, as I’ve never seen it here. I sometimes buy faisselle (not quite sure of the spelling) which is usually made with goats cheese and works in recipes that would use cottage cheese.

  • December 8, 2011 6:24pm

    Maybe because it’s so widely available in the states that I don’t give cottage cheese much thought…but admit I’m now craving it a bit! I hate that we’re known in France just for crap; I’m not alone that I’ve spent a lifetime preparing good food for my family and seldom purchasing anything that is pre-packaged that we are apparently known for.

    My kids were always intent during tips to the market to sway me, ‘Please, please Mom, why do we have to always eat homemade cookies; we just want some Oreos.’ Thankfully now that they are grown they have a greater appreciation and now hopefully are anxious for the treats I’ll be making for everyone for holiday gifts. Especially since they are now both over 21 and cranberry liqueur is brewing in the garage!

  • Lynanne
    December 8, 2011 6:26pm

    This is where the UK beats France….le cottage is readily available and in a “nearly non-fat” form of the Longly Farm carton pictured. God Bless cottage cheese/le cottage!

  • Catherine
    December 8, 2011 6:27pm

    Longley is delicious and as expensive here in the UK as it is there.

    I have drifted over to the plain Lidl cottage cheese. Very edible and reasonably dry. Have you tried that one David?

  • December 8, 2011 6:30pm

    HI David,

    I”m with you. Try a bit of home made apple sauce with your cottage cheese and eat the whole darn thing at once, What the heck,

    Love your blog. Your suggestions took me to many great places when last I was in Paris.



  • December 8, 2011 6:40pm

    I spotted Le Cottage and ran the other way.
    Now I’m ready to convert.
    When in France I think you have to throw away the euro/dollar calculator.
    For me 10 euros = $10 in the general scheme of things
    If I started calculating basic products I’d live on cacahuetes/peanuts over there.
    It’s way too inhibiting

  • December 8, 2011 6:45pm

    Hi David! I moved to the States from Russia almost 10 years ago and I still can’t eat local cottage cheese. I was so excited when I bought it for the first time! I tried it – and it was SALTY!!! It was a shocker to me because I was (and still am) used to a pretty bland, slightly tangy, crumbly kind of cottage cheese. I’d add some honey, sour cream, and eat it, or I’d add some raisins, etc and make fritters/cakes. I still buy my cottage cheese at ethnic grocery stores.
    I love your writing! And thanks to you I am strating to bake! (I am a decent cook but a lousy baker :-)))) I made your whole lemon bars – they are perfection! Thanks again!

  • Celia
    December 8, 2011 6:46pm

    I am smiling, because I find it so interesting that so many people are so involved with cottage cheese!!! Am a cottage cheese person, I do not have any friends that would ever think of buying it.

    I just bought Land-O-Lake in a 3 pound tub, at Costos) for $4.35. If I think that it has sat around too long,…it gets thrown into the food prosessor with left over cheeses, garlic and seasonings and becomes a low cal dip or dressing for baked potatoes. Also like it with cinnamon applesause. HOORAY FOR COTTAGE CHEESE!!

  • Becca
    December 8, 2011 6:50pm

    2 years ago I was an American expat living in Amman, Jordan…. a pregnant American expat living in Amman, Jordan. All I wanted to eat was cottage cheese. I would scour the dairy shelves each time I went to the fancy grocery store, hoping that a shipment would have come in. For weeks on end there would be none and then they would appear: 10 small cartons of cottage cheese, from Denmark, I believe. I wold buy two at $4 each (I was being reasonable, right?) Then I would “ration” them by eating half a carton at a time. But, invariably, I would come up with some reason to go back to the store within a day or two and, of course, I would buy two more. I probably bought a third of each shipment.

  • December 8, 2011 6:57pm

    I am so thrilled to see your post on cottage cheese. I do have the privilege (I can say so now) of enjoying not only large and all fat cottage cheese frequently. My impression though has been that most folks do not indulge in CC since it’s lineage is so much less than gourmet. What I like best (yes it’s Kraft but very nicely creamy) is to amend my containers with anything from a hot chili oil I make, to the chopped pecan products I have developed. Regardless, I believe your CC confession may indeed create a stir to seek out gourmet cottage cheese … my next venture idea!!

  • BelleD
    December 8, 2011 7:02pm

    I’m a recent cottage cheese convert. Never liked it until this year when I had the full fat variety (large curd, please!). Oddly enough, I like the Safeway supermarket variety which is creamy and has just a tiny bit of salt. I’ve tried the low fat and fat free variety and they leave a lot to be desired. Looking at the calorie and fat info on the container, the full fat version is only 30 calories more and 1-2 grams more fat, than it’s ‘light’ variety; so which to buy became a moot point.

    BTW, I love it with cranberry sauce or a little black pepper.

  • December 8, 2011 7:13pm

    I think I need to give cottage cheese another try. It’s one of those things I’ve forever told myself I hate. But I’ve also started eating sardines, herring, cabbage and salisfy in recent years, so who knows??

  • Nancy Eddy
    December 8, 2011 7:24pm

    I hate to admit this to a group of foodies, but years ago I ate a lot of cottage cheese while dieting–and I found the best way to make it go down was topping it with ketchup. I learned this from Richard Nixon and, believe me (a yellow dog Democrat) it was absolutely the only thing I liked about that man.

  • Vivian
    December 8, 2011 7:27pm

    Yes, what is going on with the huge rise in prices for cottage cheese, or in my case, quark?! I used to make a cheesecake from my Grandma’s recipe and a tub or bag of quark was one of the least expensive items in the dairy aisle, about $1.79 Cdn. Now it is #7.99!! Have the cows formed a union?

  • Joshua F.
    December 8, 2011 7:32pm

    I remember living in Paris and trekking to the 7th (or 8th) to go to a little American store to pay 7 € for a small bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or 6 € for a liter of cranberry juice. Finding le Cottage en France must be like trying to find Fromage Blanc/Frais in the US… though I have had some success with a little yogurt producer in the SF Bay Area, still not the same though.

  • December 8, 2011 7:47pm

    You can have cottage cheese if I can have fromage frais in New York. You’d think someone would stock it, but I’ve never come across any here.

  • nick
    December 8, 2011 7:48pm

    Yes, the Longley Farm stuff is really nice, I like it best with lots of fresh cracked pepper. They are one of the premium brands here in the UK and the price you mentioned is about what you would pay here. If you think France is expensive for food, be glad you didn’t choose to live across La Manche.
    Make your own cottage cheese if you are on a budget, it’s easy and if you can do that you could make your own “real” cheese.

  • Lucy
    December 8, 2011 8:04pm

    Hi David, you are right, Longley Farm is the ONLY cottage cheese to eat – everything else tastes bland in comparison. I love it on wholemeal toast with marmite; it must be the salt and umami combination!

  • Jeanne
    December 8, 2011 8:11pm

    Hi Dave,
    What I want to know is where did you get the “cheese map” featured on this post?
    It’s adorable……want one!

  • December 8, 2011 8:24pm

    How strange to see that container again. I didn’t eat that brand when I was living in France (I went 2 years without it) but of ALL places, I ate it when we lived in Iraq for a year. Somehow, that ended up being the brand that the US Embassy dining hall sourced and served! Brings back memories…..

  • deborah goldman
    December 8, 2011 8:37pm

    I live in London and eat Longley Farm cottage cheese, but Israeli cottage cheese is unbeatable.

  • December 8, 2011 8:39pm

    I’m determined to find le cottage so I can experience it’s deliciousness! Cottage cheese is a funny thing because people either love it or hate it. My grandmother would practically smack a cottage cheese filled spoon out of my mouth because she is convinced it gives you cellulite. On the other hand, I married a man with southern roots, and he cannot have a fried chicken dinner without a side of fresh sliced tomatoes and a huge scoop of cottage cheese!?! Who knew. Anyway, I absolutely love your blog.

  • Robert
    December 8, 2011 8:52pm

    Does anyone else eat cottage cheese with fresh ground black pepper? I grew up in Oklahoma and many meals had a big dollop of cottage cheese alongside. I eat small or large curd 3 or 4x per year now, and it’s always with A LOT of black pepper. Something about cottage cheese brings out the full force flavor of the spice.

  • December 8, 2011 9:24pm

    About 15 years ago a friend gave me a very simple recipe for how to make cottage cheese – her son had made it at school – and it was very successful. I remember it included adding salt and shaking the container every day until it was ready. I wrote the recipe down but cannot now find it, despite hunting high & low. There are recipes online and the one at this link (actually the first in the list when I googled) feels familiar.


    You might never have to live without cottage cheese again! If I do ever find the recipe I will try to remember to get back in touch…
    Best wishes

  • December 8, 2011 9:46pm

    If you keep a kefir culture going, as I do, it is very simple to whip up your own cottage cheese. See this site for the directions: http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefir_cheese.html#Kefir-cottage-cheese
    More often I do cream cheese with my excess kefir, even easier.

  • December 8, 2011 9:55pm

    I found “le cottage” only once at the big Carrefour market in Tours near where I live, about 3 years ago. Otherwise, it’s only in the US and UK for me. I especially like cottage cheese with pineapple. Makes me proud to be an American.

  • December 8, 2011 10:10pm

    I must concur with a previous commenter and say that I love the cheese map!

  • December 8, 2011 10:28pm

    Impossible to find in Lille these days ! I actually have the list of stores in Lille that should carry Danone cottage cheese, but no where to be found anymore. I guess there aren’t enough Americans up in the North of France willing to waste their money on cottage cheese. Sigh…

  • naomi
    December 8, 2011 10:30pm

    The best I ever had was from the diary store at the University of Georgia. I could not eat the commercial brands for years after that. I wonder if colleges with agriculture departments still have stores? (A friend who was in the department said they got the best – organic- vegetables too; a perk of going for that degree.)

  • Anna
    December 8, 2011 10:53pm

    Sir, you should visit Poland to try real and tasty cottage cheese. I’m not going comment on American cottage cheese quality and flavor, because I don’t want to use bad words.

  • December 8, 2011 11:08pm

    I used to eat cottage cheese and Granny Smith apple slices as a child almost everyday – but I agree, the quality of cottage cheese in America seems to have dipped significantly.

    My husband eats it with salt and pepper, which has always baffled me (maybe because my mom always prepared it with sweet foods?)

  • December 9, 2011 12:05am

    I am noticing 2 trends to the comments that have me scratching my head with curiosity then dying to try! #1, cracked black pepper on the cottage cheese. Seems to be a huge hit! and #2 Israeli cottage cheese?? The rave reviews have me dying to taste it!

  • December 9, 2011 12:07am

    Is it possible to make your own cottage cheese? I have made my own ricotta and I wonder if cottage cheese isn’t just as simple to do. Thinking out loud – keep the curds loose, rather than compress them as in ricotta.
    It would certainly save you a fortune and you could make the curds to the size you prefer.
    If you have a Thermomix it would be even simpler.
    Just sayin”!

  • Shari
    December 9, 2011 1:13am

    Large curd and full fat, thank you very much. : ) I also love it in the summer with garden fresh tomatoes, or anytime with canned pears.

  • Primordial Soup
    December 9, 2011 1:47am

    Hello David,

    First time poster! You are actually the first Parisian blogger I ever heard of – notably for your forays into the crème glacée world, and due to your meticulous meta-tagging your recipes have consistently come up when I’m searching for recipes! But I have successfully resubscribed to your blog, and really enjoy it!

    Dr. Oz recently exposed American cottage cheese as a Health Food Imposter! The reason: too much salt. He quoted that one serving of cottage cheese has 344 mg of sodium, about one-third of the recommended amount per day. The advice was to read the labels, as some brands can have as little as 60 mg of sodium per serving.

    Luckily, we prefer the more solid block of what I think North Americans commonly refer to as Farmer’s Cheese (which I’m sure is the same cheese sold as Polish twaróg, Russian tvorog, and the Lithuanian varškė). We live in the very multicultural Toronto, and all versions are available in ethnic markets, and even in the local grocery stores in those neighborhoods. My mother still makes the most delicious combo of Farmer’s Cheese blended with sour cream, snipped chives, freshly ground black pepper, lightly salted to taste. So good.

    Your commenters also reminded me of a version of cottage cheese that was available well into the 90s in every supermarket here: large curd cheese blended with mini bits of celery, green and red pepper. I thought it was vile as a child, but I think I’d actually like to try it again, if it was available!

    Sorry for the long post – I didn’t realize I had anything to say on the topic at all! – but I recently saw an ad for a brand of cottage cheese made by a Canadian dairy, which I thought you’d enjoy: Nordica Cottage Cheese: Blue, Green, Purple

  • December 9, 2011 2:17am

    …chopped fresh cherry tomatoes, cottage cheese, and a hefty grind of fresh pepper…YUM!

  • Cyndy
    December 9, 2011 3:33am

    @Naomi, ditto the UGA dairy cottage cheese, not to mention their ice cream would give anyone’s a run for their money. Thanks for reminding me of the good old days.

  • Kim Uyyek
    December 9, 2011 3:45am

    How could I get my hands on one of those cheese maps?

    • December 9, 2011 11:52am
      David Lebovitz

      My fromagerie uses them to wrap cheese.

  • December 9, 2011 4:30am

    They now sell single serve cottage cheese with little containers of fruit on top that you can mix in (peach, pear, etc.). This is one thing you’re missing out on here in the US!

  • December 9, 2011 5:28am

    Well, David, I must say, this post has given me a new appreciation of living in the NYC area. The supermarkets give away turkeys here. Cottage cheese is plentiful and inexpensive. Pasteurized cream (not ultra pasteurized) is available as is high quality plain yogurt.
    It’s a shame all that crappy processed US food lines the French supermarket shelves. Hey, maybe that’s why it’s there. We can eat better here. Seriously, I don’t know where to find your great French bread. We only approximate it. And the wonderful cheese–most it can be found here.
    Funny you should mention your craving for Chex Party Mix. I just made a batch of your glazed nut and pretzel mix to take to a party tomorrow. Having just taken it out of the oven, I can smell its toasty aroma.
    The omnipresent fruit cake you alluded to has been given a bad rap. It can be heavenly, just leave out those Christmas green cherries. I n some countries, it is the choice for a wedding cake. http://sweetpaprika.wordpress.com/archives/ambrosial-fruit-cake It doesn’t hurt to anoint it with a good rum or brandy.

  • December 9, 2011 5:41am

    Yes, Stephen, freshly ground black pepper on cottage cheese. I almost forgot.

    And MsMc, you asked for a great cheesecake recipe using ricotta or cottage cheese. Here it is, rich, yet light and airy. You ‘ll love it. http://sweetpaprika.wordpress.com/archives/cheese-sophistication/

  • December 9, 2011 10:21am

    Great article! I’m Canadian living in Sweden, and it’s the little comfort foods from home I miss so much. Fortunately Sweden makes great cottage cheese, way better than what we were getting in Vancouver. Though, I’d sell my left leg for some French Canadian cheese curds so I could whip up a batch of poutine!

  • December 9, 2011 2:47pm

    I’ve been living in France for 12 years and I’m a big fan of Danone’s “Jockey” cottage cheese in the green package. I buy it from Marche U or Carrefour. It has a clean, light flavour, not too salty and I’d pick that over any cottage cheese I’ve ever eaten in North America. I think the French are unsurpassed when it comes to dairy products. Cheddar being the exception. They don’t seem to get that.

  • Martha in KS
    December 9, 2011 4:52pm

    David, I too love the soft, pillowy large curds, but because I now buy lowfat cottage cheese, I have to purchase the small curds – trying to trim the soft, pillowy large thighs. Happy Holidays!

  • Chris
    December 9, 2011 6:33pm

    Now about that Chex Mix recipe… The website you link to calls it the original recipe, but it uses bagel chips. I’m sure I remember eating Chex Mix LONG before I ever heard of bagel chips, possibly before I even heard of bagels (they weren’t very common in Virginia in the ’60s, or even the early ’70s). Do you know any food historians who might have an answer to this?

  • Abi
    December 9, 2011 7:37pm

    Ooh. Longley Farm. My local supermarket doesn’t have it but I pick up a yogurt of theirs every time I see them for sale (just one, usually raspberry). They taste so real. It’s a proper pick me up. Cottage cheese is not a concept I can make sense of, but the yogurt is gooooooood!

  • Gary J Moss
    December 9, 2011 7:53pm

    “Everything here is so expensive.” Yeah, people, quality costs more. You can continue to eat your less expensive highly-processed foods or you can buy real food for somewhat more. The choice is yours. We do have quality items in the U.S. You will find that they are also somewhat more expensive than the crap you are used to buying.

  • December 9, 2011 8:37pm

    Well, “expensive” can be relative. I was in France a few months ago and planned a dinner party to celebrate my brother-in-law’s anniversary, and I was very surprised to see that many items were far less expensive than in my city of Montreal. Many game meats, for example. (Rabbit, Duck, Quail etc.) Certain classic cheeses that cost an arm and a leg in NA. And probably the most obvious: le vin! What we paid 5-6 euros for and considered un vin de table (table wine) was also being sold in a Montreal SAQ for 35$. A bottle of pretty good quality Champagne, we bought for under 15 euros. Depending on what you’re looking for, everywhere in the world will have the expensive, as well as the inexpensive. Depends what you’re after!

  • December 9, 2011 10:05pm
    David Lebovitz

    When I moved to France, I was really surprised when so many French* people told me things were expensive, especially cheese and bread – which to me, seemed like a bargain. And a croissant for less than €1? But there are a lot of things that are expensive (don’t get me started on cell phone service…and I was just looking at speakers online and the same speakers that are $199 in America are $399 in France, and they’re made in Italy!)

    French people have kind of gotten used to certain prices, which is why they don’t buy with the same ferocity as some of us : )

    *On the other hand, it’s funny when visitors have a Coke on the Champs-Elysées and are shocked that it cost €9, or a café crème at Café Flore for €7, until I explain that they’re like going into the Ritz in New York City and ordering a soda or a cup of coffee. (Plus prices in France include the tax and tip.)

  • December 9, 2011 10:21pm

    The first time I saw bagel chips was on Long Island in the late 1980’s, and Party Mix has been around since the 50’s, when there were only 2 varieties of chex. Here’s a link to a short discussion and a recipe: http://busycooks.about.com/od/snackmixrecipes/r/realorigchexmix.htm

    If it’s from about.com, it’s gotta be authentic, right?

  • December 9, 2011 10:27pm

    The strawberry marshmallow fluff is in the American section in Sweden as well. I find it so odd that 1)marshmallow fluff would be a good idea to export and 2) strawberry??? And the main ‘brand names’ that are on the shelf are Missippi Belle and Shop Rite. I never heard of either of them before moving abroad.

    Le cottage sounds divine. I love the cottage cheese that gets all soupy (milky may sound a bit better) once you open it. Unfortunately I find most of what I can get in Sweden is too dry. But now I know a great snack treat to look for next time I’m in France.

  • December 9, 2011 11:20pm

    Do you add sugar on top of your cottage cheese? I learned that as a child (allegedly this is a Swedish thing, or so my Dad claims)… mmmmmmm. Gotta try it with a sprinkling of sugar on top.

  • December 10, 2011 1:36am

    my craving abroad was always cheese fries. cheese fries with what is affectionately known in the west as fry sauce, and is a mix of ketchup and mayo (and sometimes other delicious things like pickles).

    this cottage looks fab.

  • Ohiogirl
    December 10, 2011 6:31am

    David –

    Cottage cheese with grape jelly? OMG!!!! I have not thought of that in YEARS. Had it tons as a kid and loved it.

    As an adult, I love cottage cheese with just salt and pepper – but that may be my odd eastern european heritage. Parts of my family will S & P anything, including buttered french toast. (No syrup.)

    Also I like it with fresh pineapple or, thanks to growing up in the midwest – topped with not too sweet apple butter. That’s pretty darn divine, actually. But most folks have never had that.

    You know, you could always make your own. If Laura Ingalls Wilder could, I just know you could too : )

  • December 10, 2011 1:17pm
    David Lebovitz

    Miai: It is kind of funny that Fluff is always omnipresent on shelves of the “American aisle” in supermarkets here because it’s not necessarily something that is widely consumed in America (I think) anymore. And I don’t even think I’ve seen the strawberry stuff in the states, although it may remind the French of the beloved Tagada (strawberry-flavored marshmallow candies).

    Ohiogirl: I have made my own – the recipe/post is linked at the end.

    wellfedfred: I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that if I can’t get Chex here, bagel chips won’t be easy either! : )

  • patricia
    December 10, 2011 3:50pm

    much as i love the place and i do, it seems they can not look down their noses at american food,i have said it before,for all the raving about food here, i have never seen such poor meat products,smoked butt ham might be a big thrill,lack of real vegetables from farms not agribiz,processed, packaged stuff.
    there is simply no disputing wine, bread, and pastries.
    ..but milk that lasts forever in the regular aisle,butter that has not had all the buttermilk removed so turns rancid fast..I could go on.
    of course we do not live near paris where food shopping is so much more fun..
    pont d’ alma marche, one of my favorites.
    and there would have to be a market for cottage cheese and please cheese people,why not cheddar!!??

  • December 10, 2011 6:42pm

    I really enjoyed this story. I can’t help but notice your reference to Chino Valley and Straus Organic… looks like someone knows California ;)

  • Jean Marie
    December 10, 2011 11:20pm

    Why is it at holiday time that we want to make Chex Mix? I have the ingredients on my grocery list (pretzels, no bagel chips) at this moment and will keep making batches until New Year’s Day. I’ll send you a box of the fixings if you want! Loved the chapter in Jeffrey Steingarten’s book (The Man Who Ate Everything) about the Chino family and their farm. Someday I will go there and see/taste it for myself.

  • December 11, 2011 10:39am

    Oh, I know all about inflated food prices.

    Here in China, the import tax and inflation on imported products is so high that it’s crossed the border of ridiculousness. Even a 200g carton of Chinese-made cottage cheese will run you about 3 euros. 250ml of Pauls whipping cream? 2.5 euros (that’s 10 euros a liter, guys).

    Funnily, the least inflated imported food products are probably the Carrefour-brand ones, so I’m very thankful for that!

  • December 11, 2011 2:49pm

    With Hanukkah around the corner, now I’m inspired to make a kugel, with that wonderful large curd cottage cheese. YAY. Thanks for the inspiration…

  • Lori
    December 11, 2011 4:29pm

    David – the next time you are in the states, you must try Trader’s Point cottage cheese. Most Americans would consider it pricey but all of their stuff is because top notch. I treat myself to it a couple of times a year and wouldn’t buy any other brand.

  • December 11, 2011 5:07pm

    Mmmm, cottage cheese. It’s actually good for you…in the lowfat varieties. With fruit like pineapple in the evening before bed, it will stabilize your blood sugar until morning. The problem is that it’s tasty and dessert-like, so I can see how you want to eat the whole container at once.

  • December 11, 2011 7:37pm

    I am one of the odd folks who has always enjoyed cottage cheese. Some eat it only if they’re dieting or trying to be healthy. But I just love it. Sometimes I add salsa. Sometimes black pepper. Sometimes fruit. Anyway,this tale of cottage cheese in Europe was fun to read. Thanks.

  • Michael
    December 11, 2011 9:51pm

    David, Is food more or less expensive in Paris for groceries then in New York? I’d love to see a comparison shop sometime.

  • Dominique
    December 12, 2011 9:28am

    Where did you find Le Cottage? Monoprix, Casino…? I am an ex-pat living near Lyon and I would love to find cottage cheese!

    They carry this at my local Monoprix and Franprix, although availability probably varies by location. -dl

  • December 12, 2011 5:18pm

    David on December 9, 2011 11:52 AM
    ‘Yes, you can make your own cottage cheese. I linked to my recipe at the end of the post.’

    My apologies – I missed the link at the end of your post. However there are easier methods around and without using rennet, which is not suitable for vegetarians (unless there is a vegetarian alternative I don’t know about: a bit like beef suet and vegetarian suet!)
    The method I learned was just milk (full fat, half fat or skimmed) salt and lemon juice. So simple. One day I will come across the recipe again – I hope!

    I love the way the French have not tried to translate the word Cottage – somehow La Chaumiere would not be quite the same!

    ‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’

  • December 12, 2011 7:46pm

    This post definitely inspired me to buy cottage cheese at the grocery store this weekend for the first time in years! mmm good.

  • Ohiogirl
    December 13, 2011 8:51am

    David –

    Ah ha! You sly dog – listing the recipe under “related links.” Sorry I missed it, I will check it out.

    And just remembered one more fab way to have cottage cheese – cook some chopped green cabbage in butter, toss it with cooked egg noodles and some cottage cheese, then top with fresh ground pepper. Simple but yummy!

  • Cat
    December 13, 2011 3:56pm

    Friend of mine used to make the most wonderful cheesecake with cottage cheese. Not necessarily better than the heavenly creaminess that is full fat cream cheese, but a really good light summer alternative.

  • Melanie Peterson
    December 13, 2011 4:00pm

    I am going to digress, chex mix, is something, thanks to three teen’s, and one being at boarding school, who requires copious amounts sent to her and her friends, that I make every single week of my life. I substitute popped corn for some of the pretzels, and I make it a bit holiday like, and add dried cranberries..

    I tried going asian with it, and using half soy sauce for some of the Worcestershire sauce,and playing with the garlic onion powder with asian spices, and using Trader Joe’s thai cashew nuts, but that wasn’t as popular, but I liked it..

  • Bart Vis
    December 15, 2011 9:42pm

    Hi David, I bought cottage cheese with pineapple when I was a young man in Texas. It spoiled quicker than regular CC, but that was never a problem for me because I would eat it quickly.

  • AmyG
    December 16, 2011 2:10pm

    I’m delighted to see that this is Longley Farm cottage cheese. I live near the farm in Sheffield (Enlgand) and had no idea their products travelled so far. They do beautiful fromage frais, butter and yoghurt, but the cottage cheese is their best product. It only costs us 80 pence here though!

    The low prioritisation of fresh milk in France has always baffled me-for a country that is so hot on all the other dairy products, it seems like a really odd gap. Are they just making it all in to cheese and butter?!

    On the subject of pricing, there’s a really good section in Michael Pollan’s ‘In Defence of Food’ where he discusses the relationship between average spend on food, nutritional intake and eating cultures by contrasting American and French habits. According to his argument, the French do spend more on food, and are healthier-one of his suggestions for this is that it reflects a deeper respect for quality. I know this is not really what you meant as you are talking about expensive imports, but I just wanted to mention the book as a really interesting read on the subject!

  • AmyG
    December 16, 2011 2:20pm

    Ah, I see some people in the UK report Longley Farm is expensive here..you’re being fleeced guys! I work a bit in a little wholefood shop and with a retail price at 135% of the cost price (our very standard mark-up) it’s 80p!

  • December 16, 2011 2:26pm
    David Lebovitz

    AmyG: People do find it curious the “low prioritisation” of fresh milk (great term!) in France. I think it’s because the French are not milk-drinkers – no one I know ever drinks a glass of milk, and milk is generally used in morning coffee, and that’s about it. Sterilized milk is popular likely because grocery stores don’t have the space – or want to pay the electricity for – refrigerated cases. I don’t buy it, but am surprised that most fromageries only sell sterilized milk or liquid cream, when their shelves are lined with superb raw milk cheese.

    Michael Pollan’s book is great, although I think many countries (including France) have not traditionally had access to cheap foods (ie: processed) although that’s changing a bit.

  • December 18, 2011 11:09pm

    The reason why you are so addicted to this curdy goodness is because of it’s made of milk from Jersey cows. Have you ever seen a Jersey cow? They are the prettiest cows ever, with loooong lashes and giant Bambi eyes. Their milk is considered the champagne of milks – so I can understand why you kept going back. Anything by those beauties is like crack.

  • December 22, 2011 3:59pm

    We also have trouble getting cottage cheese in Israel. It comes in tiny containers – 250 mL and costs anywhere between $1.30 and $2.50 depending on the store. In fact the rise in the cottage cheese prices to $2.50 sparked a summer of social protests here affectionately named, “The Cottage Cheese Protest”. Although I have to say that the quality of the cheeses in general here is much better.

  • December 22, 2011 4:02pm
    David Lebovitz

    Ellie: I feel the same way. Once I tasted very good cottage cheese (both in the states, from Cowgirl Creamery, and this one here) I think it’s worth the extra money because it’s so much better. Am happy I gave it a try!

  • Anna
    December 25, 2011 1:15am

    Wow, I must say you put this into perspective for me. I can get amazing cottage cheese at the local discounter Lidl in Berlin for 47 cents. But I didn’t realize how good it was until I came to the states and tried some cottage cheese here. Bwah! Gelatin, pectin, guar gum, xanthan gum, cornstarch, rice starch, I have no idea what or why it is in there… It CAN be done, and brilliantly, without all this stuff, so – why?

  • December 27, 2011 7:21pm

    Cheese and France does cause the odd issue for me certainly. I am an English chef who moved to the South West of France 3 years ago to live and work. Simple recipes in my portfolio of easy to whip up crowd pleasers have instead turned into missions of cheese terminology searching, in various french english dictionaries etc. I only realised 2 hours before I was due to present 6 vanilla cheesecakes for 150 people that cream cheese just doesn’t exist here. The closest contender being creme tartiner which has a lower fat content. The result was tasty, but slightly more bendy than usual cheesecakes which had to be removed from the fridge seconds before service! I don’t think anyone noticed. But who knew that something as simple as cheese could take a chef close to a nervous breakdown!