Monday, December 10, 2007

Japanese Cheese

The Japanese don't appreciate cheese the same way Westerners do. At least, that's what I gather from shopping at local supermarkets here. In the States you can go to a your local Ralphs and find an entire display island of assorted cheeses with various sizes, colors, and flavors, but here, my "cheese section" consists of a couple different brands of maybe two or three cheese flavors, which are all pretty much the same flavor anyway: processed.

OK, none of this is really surprising. If you're at all familiar with Japanese cuisine, you should know that cheese isn't a big part of it (though glatin is pretty popular here). The real reason I'm posting is just to share this:

This bright red box caught my eye as I walked by the cheese and butter section. Closer inspection revealed a picture of pre-sliced cheese with a curious pink middle layer in every slice, and the word "ham" prominently displayed. Ham and cheese, together, in one stack of cheese-like slices, for the ham-and-cheese fan on the go. Of course, I added it to my basket.

All right, so it wasn't real ham. The box actually says "ham-flavored cheese" which may or may not be less strange. I still find the box interesting. Let's take a closer look:

Here you can see the distinct pink and white stripes labeled "ham flavored cheese in the center" and "60% gouda on the outside." Apparently being 60% real cheese is a selling point. What I really like, though, is the picture they have in the lower left corner. The ideal way to eat ham flavored cheese, apparently, is on a plate with some slices of real ham, some lettuce and olives, and a tall glass of beer.

Anyway, I'm just having some fun because I found something I'd never seen before. I know this isn't any more strange that some things we have in the States. It's certainly not as weird as our Jimmy Dean Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Sausage on a Stick.