Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Random Picture #150
Cheese sweets in the U.S. are synonymous with pretty much only one type of cheese, cream cheese. Most of us would not think of adding sugar to any type of pungent (savory) cheese. Oh, I guess in a pinch one might go nuts and sweeten up some tangy goat cheese, but you know how things are with goats. They'll do or eat just about anything.
In Japan, one of the things which was a challenge for me was accepting that they liked to offer cheese sweets with Gouda, Camembert and cheddar. Every single cheese pastry I ever bought was made with one of those cheeses. I tried hard through the years to expand my palate, but I never quite got into the idea of cheesecake made with traditionally savory cheeses. I'm sure that meant that I missed out on a lot of opportunities for unique snacking experiences, but I can't say I'm full of regret at those missed chances.
The sign above was in Tokyo station and the food on offer is cheesecake made with Camembert. I love Camembert cheese, either on its own or a cracker. I even love it as part of an open-faced sandwich. However, I was not prepared to eat it in a cake like this. This particular "treat" was on offer as a souvenir (to give to friends, family, or, most often, office mates) rather than as something a person might just buy for their own consumption, but I'm pretty sure that if I picked up one of these for the folks back home, they'd regard it as the equivalent of a cockroach lollipop or some other such weirdness.
I haven't been to Europe, but I do wonder if this notion of using cheese that we regard as only having savory applications in the U.S. originated there and the Japanese picked up on it, or if this is a merging of the occidental and the "oriental".