Why do some cheeses smell like buttocks

The cheese paradox

My childhood tastes like cheese rolls. I associate them with school days and working days. But the good days, the special days - there was melted cheese on them. On pizza, on noodles, on toast Hawaii. I didn't grow up in Switzerland with my nose in a fondue pot. Nor is it that my grandfather made cheese himself. Our cheese came from the cheese counter and often out of the box. I liked it chilled too, I still do, but I just love it melted. When the threads stretch to arm's length and the warm, soft mass hugs my palate. There are hardly any representative studies on this, but when I look around among relatives and friends, I realize that I am not alone in my enthusiasm. I just wonder why. Why does melted cheese taste so much better, more sinful than cold cheese?

Basically, explains the milk scientist Jörg Hinrichs from the University of Hohenheim, it is like this: Cheese is a complex, amorphous system of fat and proteins. At room temperature, the milk protein determines the solid structure of the cheese. If the cheese is heated, however, the milk fat liquefies, the heat weakens the bonds of the protein structure, and from around sixty degrees the cheese begins to flow. And because fat dissolves aromas particularly well when heated, melted cheese tastes more intense. Just why it tastes better to some people is complicated.

Taste arises multisensory, through seeing, eating, touching, smelling. When eating, the foods previously seen and found to be good first encounter the taste receptors of the tongue. With it we taste sweet, bitter, sour, salty and umami. Umami comes from Japanese, means something like hearty and tasty, and is evolutionarily linked to the uptake of valuable proteins. Meat and cheese such as parmesan are described as umami. In addition, we not only taste with our tongues, but also feel. Similar to the fingertip, the tongue is very nervous. It works like a magnifying glass. What we touch with her appears ten times as big in our mouth. "Like the heat, the threading of the cheese in the mouth also changes the taste, because the playful moment is perceived as beneficial," says ecotrophologist Christine Brombach from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Like chewing gum.

Most read this week:

But according to Brombach, the nose is even more important for taste than the tongue. The nose divides the aromas that reach it via the pharynx into not just five, but 350 taste notes. The brain combines all these sensory impressions into a taste experience. And every taste experience has its roots in personal experience.

At home, melted cheese was not the norm, but rather a reward and reassurance. And that's exactly what happens as soon as I eat it

Because our taste formation begins long before we even start eating. Our tastes are in part genetic, like the rejection of coriander. It is evolutionary, like the caution with regard to bitter substances, since poisonous substances often taste bitter too. It is shaped by the eating behavior of the mother: It has been proven that children whose mothers ate a lot of aniseed or caraway seeds during pregnancy also liked these foods later. And most people's preference for sweets and fats can also be seen
can be traced back to breast milk, which consists mainly of sugar and fat and is considered to be a source of energy. But a large part of our taste comes from »mere exposure«, which is used in psychology to describe the fact that we perceive something as positive simply through repeated perception. We don't eat what we like, we like what we eat - on average after the sixteenth time.

The rest is private. And that's where the big differences begin. Because tastes are not just that different. They are different because people are different. Tastes are biographical. The sentence "You are what you eat" takes on a new meaning. Up until now, I had always thought it forward, as an invitation to a "better" diet with less sugar, fat, meat and more vegetables. If you think the sentence in the direction of the past, "You are what you eat because you ate what was on the table", it becomes clear what a personal matter tasting is.

When I think of melted cheese, I think of the Edam on the pizza that we were allowed to order from the delivery service in the village after our parents went out and that we ate with our hands on my friend Tini's sofa during an episode of Dawson's Creek . On a plate of pasta, baked in the microwave with butter cheese, Saturday lunchtime, before my brothers and I had to play the point game and between gardening and weekly shopping there was no time for anything elaborate. To the first grilled cheese sandwich of my life that my host sister in the USA served me against my homesickness. The first toasted sandwich in my first own apartment the evening before university started and my new life with it. My father had sent me the sandwich toaster in the mail, along with a television. He said that no student could survive without these two devices.

For the ecotrophologist Brombach, my love for melted cheese has above all to do with these moments of harmony. These memories are likely stored as patterns of excitation in my limbic system and are recalled as soon as I eat melted cheese. At home, melted cheese was not the norm, but rather a reward and reassurance. And this is exactly the feeling I get as soon as I eat it: everything will be fine.

The sandwich toaster is still with me. It's in the back of the cupboard, but after a long night I sometimes pull it out, brush it with butter and press two slices of toast with old Gouda cheese between its hot irons. I already enjoy waiting. The smell caresses my soul. I hypnotize the red lamp: Jump on green, jump on green! It jumps to green, I burn my fingers first and then my palate, but it's true, everything is fine.