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June 4 is National Cheese Day. There are many food holidays, that are dedicated to dishes with cheese, but today we honor only cheese.

As I am sure you are all aware, cheese is an ancient food made of milk. There are many factors that contribute to they type and taste of cheese that is available: country of origin, diet of the animal, whether it has been pasteurised, how long it has been aged and (don’t be disturbed) the mold and bacteria. Therefore cheese is available in a wide range of flavors, textures and forms. Milk from goats, cows, sheep, buffalo can be used for cheese production. Different spices, fruit and even wood smoke are used as flavor agents, that give cheese unique taste and texture.

In 2014, world production of cheese from whole cow milk was 18.7 million tonnes, with the United States accounting for 29% (5.4 million tonnes) of the world total followed by Germany, France and Italy as major producers. Despite these huge figures in relation to cheese production, the USA are not considered the largest exporter of cheese as the majority of domestic cheese production is consumed nationally.

Cheese is high in fat, calcium and protein and has some excellent health benefits but… always consume in moderation! We think that the best way to eat cheese is to serve it on a cheese plate with grapes, olives, tomatoes and some crackers or fresh bread.

Did you know that apparently you should never serve cheese cold? The best way of serving it is to let it stand for about half an hour at room temperature. Warm cheese is more flavorful and its texture is much better.

Invite your friends over for a cheese (and wine) party to celebrate National Cheese Day. Why not see if you can compete with the folks in Wisconsin where a cheeseboard 70 feet (21 m) long was used to feature the variety of cheeses manufactured in Wisconsin and where the state legislature recognizes a “cheesehead” hat as a state symbol? That would be a serious cheese party! Beware of the cheese head ache!