When countries become tourist destinations, food culture tends to lose its borders.
People who travel the world bring back the flavours they encounter. And one of these “flavours” that’s becoming better known in Thailand is a taste for fine cheeses. Whether in a restaurant or hotel buffet, cheese is increasingly appearing on the menu, and in a variety of ways.
The Centre National Interprofessionnel de l’Economie Laitiere (CNIEL), backed by the European Union, recently hosted another edition of the “Open Your Taste with European Cheese” workshop in Bangkok.
Laurent Pousse, the cheese specialist at The Mall group, shared the techniques and language of cheese tasting and how to choose condiments that complement each cheese type.
Cheese is a major industry in Europe, production growing every year – from 8.4 million tonnes in 2010 to more than nine million in 2016.
“The European Union has high food-safety standards that the dairy industry has to meet,” said Laurent Damiens of CNIEL. “All procedures, from the milk-processing to the final product, has to be under strict quality control. This is what makes European cheese so high in quality.
Pousse said European cheese can be consumed any time of the day, as a snack on its own or part of a well-rounded meal. There are also endless possibilities of food and drink it can pair with, he said, offering a few tips to enhance the experience.
“You can eat cheese with bread, fruit, jam, honey, herbs or condiments. If you pair it with drinks, make sure the characteristic of both cheese and drink match. Mild cheese goes with a light wine, while strong cheese goes with a bold wine. But, of course, any other kinds of drink – like beer, cider or champagne – can be paired with cheese as well.”
Every country has its own cuisine and distinct tastes, but to fuse one recipe with another creates an even more distinct dish. By mixing the best quality of each country’s elements, a new taste becomes apparent.
European cheeses can mingle with Thai cuisine in several ways – grated over dishes, salads and soups, melted with noodles or cooked with rice.
“Introducing cheese to Thais’ food habits is a way to bring a bit of Europe to their daily lives,” Pousse noted.