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Give me milk or give me cheese!

Updated on June 1, 2010
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June 2 (Wednesday)Cooking Ingredients: Cheese and Dairy

Sorting out and identifying different kinds of cheeses and dairy products put me in a daze during my early days as a cook trainee onboard ship. Although, I had an initial knowledge about these milk products, I thought cheeses are different from milk. Oh, my dumb brain! It’s dairy products after all. So, erasing any doubts or cobwebs in my mind, I began to appreciate the usefulness of cheeses and milk in maintaining my health. So far, so good; I will agree with my Greek officers that cheese can be eaten during breakfast, lunch or even dinner. With just bread and cheese, you’ll have a balanced diet the whole day.

Cheese and Dairy Products 101

Travel Man, yours truly, have written a hub about the health benefits when eating cheese a day. It can promote a good night sleep when you nibble a slice of cheese. Even if you don’t drink a hot milk at night, cheese is a good alternative. Dairy products, like yoghurt, with cultured bacteria, enhances the functions of our stomach and small intestines.

How do I know all about these cheeses and milk products? Well, as a child, I was bottle-fed by my mother due to her inability to produce enough breast milk.

Powdered-milk products from cow ( alternative sources are goat and sheep or even carabao or water buffalo) and vegetables (soya beans is a good source)are widely sold in the market. I always like condensed milk and lick it on my finger while putting it on my bread (Filipinos are fond of pan de sal or salty bread, a resemblance with Spanish bread) in the morning. Evaporated milk is good for fruit salad (like buko or young coconut salad) or icy refreshments ( as in halo-halo, an ice-based -crushed- refreshments topped with fruit preserves and ice cream scoops). A powdered cream for coffee is a good alternative from evaporated milk that can easily spoil if not put in a fridge after opening the can. It should be transferred to a clean glass dispenser and refrigerated.

The most sought-after cheese is the edam cheese (queso de bola during Christmas time). Cheddar cheese is good for sliced bread. The Philippine version of white cheese (usually called Laguna cheese because it comes from carabao’s milk) is what I remembered when I was a child. It was not too salty that you can make it as a spread in the bread, aside from mayonnaise. I also like mozzarella cheese for pizza or pasta casserole. We should take credit to the people of Holland, the first country to make a mass-produced cheese in the late 18th century. It was even used as cannon balls during wartime.

When I became a cook trainee in a Greek ship, I became acquainted with lots of cheeses, from soft, semi-hard to very hard cheese. White cheese, usually stored in brine solution, is one of the appetizers in Greek cuisine or other European cuisines. Greeks usually eat it during lunchtime. During night time, their fridge should have at least slices of five kinds or cheeses, like the kefalotyri (hard cheese), ementhal (a bitter cheese), edam (most popular, even among Filipinos), white cheese, and chocolate cheese (it’s their specialty). How about the bleu cheese? Have you encountered it? It’s a very smelly cheese, as if it is decaying because of the blue-colored grains of the cheese, but they said it’s alright. It cannot even pass the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the US government, but Greek ship chandlers still import it from their home country, Greece. They go loco for it because when you put it as a spread in the slice bread and warm it in the microwave oven, the taste becomes different and you’ll never regret you tried tasting it. Whew! I can still remember the aftertaste of this bleu cheese. It is really different. Anyways, it is always segregated by quarantine officers in the US because they thought it is already spoiled.

Travel Man’s Cheesy and Milky Experiences

“Give me milk or give me cheese!” It’s like in a surreal Shakespearean play. My first master or captain onboard ship is a Greek one, but British-trained when it comes to education. But, he didn’t forget the regimen of a true-bloodied Greek, eating cheese or drinking milk day and night.

He will always say, “You know, Travel Man, it is important for seafarers to drink milk because it will prevent us from acquiring osteoporosis.” “But, I often wonder why the Filipinos seldom drink milk or even eat cheese?” I answered that most Filipinos suffer from laxative effect after drinking milk. I often have stomach cramps and ache after drinking fresh milk in the morning. The lactic acid in a protein-rich milk often attack my stomach. It’s like a battle inside my tummy that I had to go to the comfort room in my cabin. So there, he laughed out loud.

More often than not, I would neglect to add the grated cheese in my pasta meal on board ship to avoid the churning of my stomach. Greeks like to add grated hard cheese (kefalotyri) in many oven-prepared Greek cuisine, like toppings in Mossaka (eggplant-based meal with ground beef meat); pasta carbonara or even in Greek salad. I think, they will never tire in adding cheese or milk products for every meal they it, just like curry powder in Indian cuisine.

Dairy Consumption Disputes

Many milk lobbyists argue that cow’s milk is for calves, not for humans. Maybe, it’s true, because calcium-rich soya milk is a good vegetable alternative if cow’s milk is not available. Most Indian people believe that cows are sacred (a reincarnation of Hari Krishna) and they don’t even drink cow’s milk.

Dairy products, like the calcium-rich milk, is widely credited for decreasing risk of osteoporosis or keeping our bones in tiptop shape. But some opposes cite studies that show a low incidence of osteoporosis in such groups as the South African Bantu tribes who derive most of their calcium from plant sources. The Bantus have greater exposure to the sun, main source of vitamin D, that is responsible for calcium absorption in our body.

By the way, cheese producers are bowing to the clamor of public consumers for low-fat or even fat-free varieties. By reading labels carefully, you can get the goodness of chess and other dairy products. Check out the authenticity of this table for your cheese reference.

CHEESE % Milk Fat /Fat Content

Cheddar 31 /10.0

Light cheddar 20 /6.0

Emmentaler (Swiss) 27 /8.0

Colby 29 /9.0

Brie 23 /6.0

Mozzarella 28 /8.0

Part-skim mozzarella 15 /4.0

Danbo 9 /2.5

Processed cheddar 23 /6.0

Processed skim milk 7 /2.0

Cottage cheese 4.5 /1.1

Light cottage cheese 2 /0.6

Cream cheese 30 /10.0

Light cream cheese 23 /7.0

Note: per ounce (28 grams) or 1-inch (2.5 cm) cube

Cheese Productions & Facts: Bleu Cheese c/o eHow


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    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Tonipet: Thanks for that vote of confidence.

      My acidity problem twisted my milk-filled world, but, I am slowly coping up again.

      If I mixes milk with coffee or in other ingredients, my stomach can tolerate it.

      Vegetable-based milk is more tolerable than those from animals.

      It still helps maintain my kind of healthy living.

    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 5 years ago from The City of Generals

      Hi travelman. Give me both milk and cheese! :-)

      I'm glad having no issues with milk, loved it since I was small. With cheese, Cheddar is still my favorite though Gorgonzola with mustard I can say makes a really tasty dressing. Enjoyed reading your tropical cooking. Thank you for sharing your beautiful experiences, you're an inspiration to us pinoys here. Take care in your travels and more blessings! Voted up across the board.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @thesailor: You know, I am missing the odor of that blue cheese (because of that blue yeast). When you use it as sandwich bread filling , then toast it in the microwave oven, the aroma is pure heaven! And also the taste! Just gulp a hot coffee for a more filled snacks or breakfast.

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas

      I just nibbled Feta cheese last week, leftover of my nephews and nieces after consuming it as bread filling.

    • bacville profile image

      bacville 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I have a problem with milk, too; but with its dairy products, like cheese and youghurt, it's more friendly with my tummy. I enjoy nibbling cheese, especially cheddar and edam.

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 7 years ago from Seven Seas

      I love both milk and its products, cheeses and youghurt.