Hey y’all! Sorry for the long hiatus, but with Good Friday, Easter, and a bunch of birthday parties I haven’t had much time to do anything other than run around like a chicken with my head cut off and then recover. But, my little blogging vacation has come to an end, and I promise never to take such an extended one without a little warning first! Now that we’ve gotten that all out of the way, we can get right into my little Easter special. Ok, I get it. Easter is long over, and the last thing you want to do is hear about my cutesy little Easter holiday stories, or about what Jesus means to me. And don’t worry – I have no intention whatsoever of even remotely mentioning any of the above. Actually, what I wanna talk about is Jamaican cheese.
Trust me, I can totally imagine the puzzled expressions worn on most of your faces as you try and figure out why I said this was going to be my Easter special and then all I want to do is talk about cheese. But, and I there are some Jamaicans out there who are feeling me on this one, when I think about Easter I think about Good Friday. And when I think of Good Friday the first thing I think about (other than Jesus dying on the cross for my sins – I’m a religious heathen, you see :-p) is a day filled with fish, and bun and cheese. And seriously, if I didn’t get my Escovitch fish (read: Jamaican fried fish) isn’t on my plate by end of day on Good Friday, I would be one extremely unhappy gemstone. But, what I truly crave is bun and cheese. And on no day does it taste as sweet.
But I’m not talking about just any bun and any cheese. I’m talking about Jamaican spice bun and Jamaican cheese. To be clear, when most people eat bun they normally just slap some of our good ol’ north american cheddar cheese on it and call it a day. I mean, the flavor is close enough, the texture isn’t that far off, and it does the trick. But have you ever had bun and cheese in its true form? Probably the most ghetto, lazy snack I have ever had in my life, and yet for some reason I take it to be a delicacy. Just something about it. Probably has more to do with early childhood memories and acquired tastes. Either way, I enjoy it more than I could ever describe to you (although I’m doing a good job ranting on and on about it, aren’t I? :-p). And like most things that we love to death for absolutely no reason other than we’ve ALWAYS loved it to death, I found out this past Good Friday that I don’t know a damn thing about it. I mean, it’s not all that abnormal to know nothing about a baked good when you don’t bake. But I seriously took for granted the fact that I knew nothing about Jamaican cheese.
As you all roll your eyes, putting on your little “how is it that Ruby is so ignorant of the world? Even I could guess all that there is to know about Jamaican cheese” let me tell you a little bit about it. Ok, so first off, Jamaican cheese comes in a can. Sounds ghetto already, right? lol But it does. The brand name is Tastee (pictured below). While I’m sure you can all read, I’ll still spell it out for you: Tastee Cheese is a pasteurized processed cheese spread made with cheddar cheese… hmmmm… sounds a wee bit more interesting now, doesn’t it? Now, in case you’re wondering, a familiar North American comparison would be Cheez Whiz. If Cheez Whiz came in a can instead of in a neat little resealable jar, that is. Now, in case you’re wondering what exactly this “pasturized processed cheese” is, I decided to investigate and can provide you with an actual definition:
Pasteurized process cheese, which is made from one or more cheeses (excluding certain cheeses such as cream cheese and cottage cheese but including American cheese), and which may contain one or more specified “optional ingredients” (includes both dairy and nondairy items). Moisture and fat content percentage requirements vary according to standards for constituent cheeses, but fat content must in most cases be >47%. Processed cheese, process cheese, cheese slice (UK), prepared cheese, or cheese food is a food product made from normal cheese and sometimes other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt, food colorings, or whey.
Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? So now we can understand why it sort of tastes like cheddar cheese, but is softer and has a more mellowed out kind of flavor…because they only use cheese as an ingredient. Which makes me feel vaguely nauseous. And also makes me laugh my ass off. I mean, seriously? For generations Jamaicans have been taking a form of Cheez Whiz, cutting it into slices, and putting it on bread and telling their kids that this is some classy, highly desired form of food. Wow. It amazes me the crap parents pawn off on their children as fact. It flabbergasts me that these children grow up into adults and never once check on these “facts” and instead blindly pass them on to their kids. Even once we know that shits not adding up. For example, not one person living in North America could possibly believe that honest to goodness cheese is sold in a can. Not one. I don’t care how ghetto, how dumb. Doesn’t matter. Period.
So in and of itself, that should have been enough of a discovery about my beloved Jamaican cheese. Oh, but it continues. Because Jamaican cheese ain’t from Jamaica. No foolin’! My mother said this, which I promptly rolled my eyes at (much as I assumed you did earlier at the beginning of my little rant), all while pulling out my phone to do a quick google fact search. Don’t worry, this isn’t some rare behaviour because I want to prove my Mother wrong at all costs: I check every damn thing anyone ever says to me via Google search pretty much immediately after they say it. You may call it obsessive. I call it a healthy quest for complete and accurate information. Tomayto, Tomahto. Now, after hitting the first few sites (which were Jamaican grocery stores featuring ads for Tastee cheese) which all adamantly proclaimed Tastee cheese to be a “fine cheese from Jamaica”, I decided to change up the search terms slightly….
And this is what I found…and before I continue, I just want to let you know I did an in depth search and checked my facts several times before deciding to accept this as the truth. And the truth it is, my friend:
“Dairy Industries Jamaica Limited…are producers and contract-packagers of a range of milk-based products. The company, [is] located in Kingston, Jamaica [and it’s] flagship product is Tastee Cheese which commands the largest share of the cheese market in Jamaica… The company was formed on April 23, 1964, the result of a partnership between GraceKennedy Ltd. and the New Zealand Dairy Board, now known as Fonterra Co-operative Group of New Zealand, one of the world’s leading exporters of dairy products”
Did you catch the point? While DIJL is providing Jamaican food stores in Jamaica and else where with Tastee Cheese, they aren’t making it. Nope, we can thank our New Zealand friends at Fonterra for our Jamaican cheese. That’ll teach me to ever learn about something I’m madly in love with ever again. Jamaican cheese my ass! A)It qualifies as cheese flavoured, at best and B)It most certainly ain’t Jamaican. Hopefully by next year I’ll be able to erase these awful details from my mind, develop some type of complete amnesia for this traumatic event, so that way I can blissfully chow down on my beloved bun and cheese with nary a misgiving. I guess that’s what I get for writing my rant on my hate of ignorance and those who prefer to live encased in it.
Hopefully I didn’t ruin anybody’s afternoon snack! lol
Happy Wednesday y’all!