6 Minute Read | by Gino De Blasio
Stage 13 and today we are in the region of Friuli. We are over that awkward halfway point and with the majority of sprinters leaving the Giro, we need to re-inject some passion into our race, so here goes, cheese makes you a better lover… You really need to read the rest of this for that to make sense.
As for the Giro, it really is anyone’s game, but if I were a betting man, I would put this stage money on… Movistar.
My name is Gino and I’m a cheese addict. Whilst cheese addiction has no official name, status or support group, it has joined a myriad of other foods that can be classed as genuinely addictive. Thanks to something called, casomorphins, a product found in whey, cheese addiction has been officially researched and placed on a scale by the Yale Food Addiction (1) association.
“Cheese is as addictive as Crack!” read the LA Times headline in October 2015 thanks to the study which found that the properties within cheese can actually make it addictive. The words, Cheese and Crack in the same sentence however…
Here’s the thing, for every cheese lover out there, there is a startling array of facts that everyone can proverbially tuck in to, preferably with a full bodied wine and some grapes. How middle class indeed. It will come as no surprise to those that know the author of this piece that in one shopping trip I spent a month’s heating and electricity bill on thirteen different cheeses and a probiotic honey to go with double baked wafer crackers. For one week, my dreams were as vivid as a 70s Pink Floyd light show (apparently, I’ve only ever seen YouTube and I’m not old enough) and as frightening as Nightmare on Elm Street meets Goodfellas.
But it was this headline in August, 2015 that left the this cheese addict’s imagination wondering… and a slight sense of vengeance against the non cheese lovers of this world;
“Grilled Cheese Lovers Have More Sex And Are Better People, According To Survey”
Who am I to argue with the “truth”?
Not only can we be satisfied in the knowledge that cheese is making us as sexually attractive as 90s male deodorant spray (2), but as wholesome as Bob Ross (3) painting another tree on PBS’ ‘Painting with Bob Ross.’
And it’s not just cheese alone, it has to be grilled cheese. For the Brits, this is America’s version of a cheese toastie.
The study – conducted under some PR guise for dating site “Skout”– found that from 4,600 people surveyed, 32 percent (1472) “of grilled cheese lovers reported having sex at least six times a month, whereas only 27 percent of grilled cheese haters said they have sex that often.” But the story continued. “The findings also discovered that grilled cheese fans are more generous and adventurous than their sandwich-skipping counterparts. Eighty one percent of pro-cheesers have donated their time, money or food to those in need. By comparison, only 66 percent of those who dislike grilled cheese report helping the needy.” Obviously these results conclusively prove that, if you like grilled cheese, you’re going to be just fine.
Obviously these results conclusively prove that, if you like grilled cheese, you’re going to be just fine.
Of course, not every scientifically proven survey has such remarkable effects, but digging into aphrodisiacs, you’d be mistaken for thinking that chocolates, oysters and champagne had a stronghold on getting you “in the mood.” Take for example this research which indicates why cheese acts like a Bradley Cooper (4) lookalike convention to the opposite sex; “Like cocoa, cheese contains phenylethylamine (PEA), one of the ingredients that gives chocolate its reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac. PEA is responsible for the release of endorphins, so people who eat chocolate in response to a break up have the right idea. However, fresh cheeses like young goat cheese are reported to contain more than ten times as much PEA as chocolate. Plus, like other protein-rich foods, cheese also promotes dopamine production. Yes, cheese is one of those foods that should not be eaten in excess, but in small portions, cheese offers protein, promotes hormones that make us feel happy — and more kissable. That’s right, cheese helps to kill bacteria in the mouth and has a similar smell to that of human pheromones (read: the ability to turn on both sexes). Pucker up.” Well it’s no wonder then why cheese lovers make such great romantics, with it being as addictive as crack cocaine, as sexually enticing as Giorgio Armani (5) shoot and as heart-warming as a Friends cast reunion. Frico then, must be the dish that “brings all the boys to the yard,” if Kelis’ 2003 hit single was to be an indication. Where the Americans and Brits rejoice in their cheese and toast based delights, this Friulian dish is well known across the region for its variations and serving options. Small, bitesize and delicious with an array of charcuterie and other dishes, it stands up to other main meals in Friuli, if for anything else, it’s unique look and appeal. Starting life as side dish; moreover, it was overshadowed by the other displays of Friulian gastronomy much like a maligned Howard Stern (6) on America’s Got Talent or Gary Barlow (7) on the UK’s X Factor, you know there’s something good, somewhere, just not sure where. Originating as the combined ingredients of leftovers and in particular, cheese rinds, this provincial side act in the food world has become more popular as a dish in its own rights when being utilised by the mountain farmers and sheepherders as it provided a source of energy and substance. Something required if all of these stories of amorous liaisons thanks to cheese are anything to go by.
The word, fricò o friccò stems from the French word fricot and would indicate that it’s made from primarily cooked vegetables, such as in Emilia Romagna where they have a similarly named dish. The Friuli version however takes on the primary form of a mixture of potatoes and leftover cheese, primarily Montasio; typical of the region and with a low melting point compared to other mountain cheeses in the region.
Local “cremerias” (dairy shops) had been known to sell the cheese rinds for Frico as it became more popular, and to this day, it is not uncommon to see the rinds sold in individual packages in Friuli where there are also specific mixtures for flavour. It’s like an economical version of repackaging broken biscuits in a Russian roulette format.
It’s like an economical version of repackaging broken biscuits in a Russian roulette format.
During the cooking process, Frico becomes extremely malleable allowing it to be turned into bowls, which is how this dish was apparently originally served until the 1800’s when it then started being utilised as a centrepiece in main contemporary food.
Frico is an easy dish to create and requires a little bit of practice but once mastered, you should be outperforming the grilled cheese fans in no time; and giving in abundance to the poor at the same time!
This recipe from Epicurious has Frico in the guise of a parmesan bake, whilst not traditional, it’s always nice to learn something new in the world of food. A must try for those used to entertaining. Lidia Bastianich writes in Saveur this recipe which utilises Montasio cheese; labelled as Montasio cheese crisps, well worth getting your hands on this cheese. Finally Giallo Zafferano has produced this original dish for their site which moves away from cheese crisp and more towards the original potato based recipe found in Friuli. (Note, this is in original language)
How can we leave this piece without some humble mention or brag for the perfect Grilled cheese recipe? Well, we can’t.
Felicity Cloake thoroughly investigates how to make the best Grilled cheese sandwich, for that we applaud you, Felicity, brava! The New York times took on the challenge for the best grilled cheese sandwich, here are their results. And finally, Serious Eats has done more research into this than the team at CERN when colliding atoms when it comes to the best food for, well, pretty much anything – unless you’re lactose intolerant…
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1. This is pretty self explanatory. Basically, how addictive are foods on their own scale. This could however be classified as a chocolate digestive dunked in Yorkshire tea as 10 and anchovy in your tomato soup as 0.
2. Lynx has promised men many things over the years, namely the possibility to bed any woman they want, be as cool as an astronaut and have the sex appeal of David Beckham on a hot streak as long as they smell of the finest lynx products. As someone who has spent the best part of his own cash for any of these things I can categorically say, lies.
3. Bob Ross was the softest soul on the planet. His paintings were all the same, nearly, trees were his friends, rocks were his characters and his palette scrapper was his preferred weapon of choice.
4. Bradley Cooper is an actor. Watch any film from 2010 onwards and he has probably stared in it. He is also particularly handsome and his piercing blue eyes have been described to the author as, piercing blue eyes.
5. Giorgio Armani is a designer who has made a living out of making people dress in black and being generally gorgeous. Good work, Giorgio. Good work.
6. Howard Stern is a shock jock, presenter and has one of the best 70s hairstyles to date. Just youtube him.
7. Gary Barlow was one of the biggest recording artists the UK has produced. He may have written some of the most beautiful songs in the 90s but today, you can find him singing at strangers weddings/birthdays today. What a fall from grace.