Charles de Gaulle, the great French war time leader, famously asked “How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?” Well, he gave it a solid shot, but clearly he was unaware of the sheer dogged fervour of the European health fascists in the British medical lobby and CASH (Consensus Action on Salt & Health) the most singularly miserable bunch since Cromwell’s parliament banned Christmas.
I love cheese. All types of cheese. From the sublime (Cambozola) to the perfunctory Cheddar via processed horrors of string cheese. I could exist on the nutty excellence of Edam or Emmental; I would eschew alternative foodstuff for a fine Tallegio or a perfectly filthy Époisses, not to mention the glory of Gorgonzola or Roquefort with just about anything. This is the beauty of cheese; it can be cooked, or grilled or melted or used to season, but best alone with crackers or grapes or a sliced Braeburn apple – or, when I am alone, with fingers.
So deeply ingrained is my longest and as of yet my most fulfilling relationship that when the entrance of a new, delightful and altogether healthier relationship forced me to entirely alter my cooking repertoire a slight veil of panic descended. A man who cannot stand cheese; who knew. My evening cheese intake forced to either fall in line to “lunch only”, only this morning I almost re-evaluated a longstanding friendship upon discovering that said friend currently has a fine Camembert and a Barkham Blue in his FRIDGE.
Sacrilege! Refrigeration ruins all, whatever the weather. It is for my love of cheese, vast eclipsing any semblance of a sweet tooth, that I torture myself most days through exercises spanning running – hideous – to Bikram yoga – 90 minutes in over 40 degree heat – so potent a combination are turophilia and vanity.
So it comes as little surprise that the health lobby and so too soon the government want it regulated, banned, its packaging sordidly reduced to warning notes and colour wheels. Not content with bleeding us dry through “sin taxes” nor reducing glittery packaging to Soviet greys, headlines abound with threats of a “fat tax” and salt is rendered unacceptable.
Research published in the British Medical Journal and reported in yesterday’s Guardian places halloumi and blue cheeses, particularly Roquefort, in the firing line of “public health campaigners”. Apparently the aforementioned beauties contain more salt than sea water, an absolutely meaningless comparison designed to shock and appal; and who drinks sea water for fun anyway?
Cathedral City cheddar is another offender, alongside 81 percent of cheeses that fail to meet the Food Standards Agency’s arbitrary “red” colour rating for retaining their gorgeous salty flavour. CASH has now called for the government to introduce “much more challenging” targets on salt reduction in cheese in order to improve public health and emulate the U.S. which, one might note, in the name of “public health” bans unpasteurised soft cheese but not AR-15s. An ideal to compete with indeed.
This is utterly depressing, the nanny state at its worst. Let’s start with a couple of facts, relating to “public health”. Cheese, like chocolate, contains the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA) or the “love drug” that mimics the feeling of ‘being in love.’
PEA promotes dopamine production in the body which heightens one’s alertness and leaves one with a feeling of well-being and contentment. Does broccoli? No. Point made. At a time when the populace’s mental health continues to suffer, perhaps the government should be looking to prescribe not prohibit cheese.
A myriad of issues surrounding taxation and NHS funding aside, it simply is not the government’s job nor duty to tell us what to put in our bodies, neither is it appropriate for a bunch of unelected, miserable killjoys over at CASH and the like to kick off another round of policy-based evidence-making designed to push the Department of Health into legislating in favour of their pet cause.
To Britain’s turophiles I say just this; my evenings of cheese-based joy may be limited now but that is a decision I have made. Do not submit to this leftie lunacy; unite, and do not let the government take away yours. Fight for your right to Parmesan.