Have you ever woken up with your neck bent to the side in excruciating pain because you slept on it wrong? If so, did you then have to write a cheese blog post with your head bent 45 degrees to the right? If not, please have some empathy for me today, as I am literally-a little bent. This will be my first ever sideways written post…interesting. As we do the final 10 cheese count down (it almost makes me cry to write that) I notice that I have neglected Edam, one of the most beloved and popular cheeses in the world. Zoiks! Luckily I caught that little oversight in time.
Edam cheese is a pasteurized Dutch cow’s milk cheese first mentioned in 1439 when it was made and shipped from the Port of Edam north of Amsterdam. Although mostly made in Holland, the majority is exported. The Dutch prefer Gouda over Edam. As I am a huge Gouda fan, I am curious to see where I land in this debate! The name “Edam Holland” is protected and thus cheese bearing that name is guaranteed to be of Dutch origin. However, cheese called Edam is made all over the world and labelled as plain old Edam. So watch out, if it matters, it’s “Edam Holland” you are looking for. Usually Edam made outside of Holland will not have the distinctive red wax coating. But to confuse this formula, that red wax coated Mini Babybel cheese we all put in our kids lunches is Edam, is red wax coated, but is not made in Holland. Confused yet?
Edam AKA (Dutch Edammer) is traditionally sold in flattened disks of cheese with a coat of red paraffin wax. The cheese is named for the town of Edam in North Holland. From the 14th until the 18th century, Edam cheese was the most popular cheese in the world especially at sea and in the colonies. Edam could mature very well at sea and could tolerate a little off grid affinage in the hold of a ship, so it was easy to bring it along to eat while travelling. According to legend, Edam cheese became even more popular in that time that as ships used these cheeses as bullets for their cannons. That sounds like bull ship to me, I mean, really?
The Edam cheese of today is not the same cheese as old school Edam. It’s been made from skim milk since the 1800’s while it historically was a full fat milk, like its close cousin, gouda. Traditional ” farmer style” Edam cheese had a strong flavour and has all but disappeared and been replaced by a factory made version, soft and rather insipid in comparison. Edam is now sold mostly in a “young” version which is mild and salty and red waxed. The aged and traditional version-which will be more flavourful-has a black paraffin wax coating to help distinguish it from the younger type.
My Edam bears the label, “Royal Hollandia,” this company was a little tricky to track down, it turns out that this is a trademarked name of the international dairy giant Friesland Foods company from The Netherlands. I am assuming this cheese is made in Holland, as the parent company is Dutch, but it is not calling itself the protected name “Edam Holland ” so that’s kind of strange. I’m not sure where this cheese doesn’t meet the standards set by the protected designation, but my neck hurts too much for further sleuthing at this hour.
My slice of Edam has a firm yellow cheese paste with a bright red wax rind-which I shall remove, of course. The interior paste is solid with no eyes. It looks like a large Babyel that has been sliced. The smell is extremely mild, in fact, does it smell?
Well, this certainly isn’t Babybel! This cheese is much saltier and more tart than I was expecting. There is no hint of sweet at all, it’s kind of an astringent soya sauce flavour- mild with no raunchy notes, but also not as appealing as I thought it would be. It’s kind of boring and chilled out with no hint of anything carnal or dark to distract me from the banality. It’s safe, very safe, you can see why it is sold to children in tiny little versions. The texture is really great though, it’s chewy and tensile-you could slice this one and put it on a sandwich no problem, or even shoot it out of a cannon, I suppose, but I must have some Dutch heritage-I vastly prefer a Gouda too, this one’s not my slice of cheese.