There's A New Cheddar Cheese Lexicon, And It Is Gross

07/11/2014 07:36 am ET | Updated Jul 11, 2014
Flickr: C. Levine

As food writers, we're used to coming up with creative ways to talk about food. We've established the words we want to stay far away from -- like "moist" and "nom nom" -- and we do our best to not overuse basic, but absolutely necessary, food descriptors like "delicious." Usually, we're thrilled to come up with original ways to talk about food. But when it comes to the new cheddar cheese lexicon developed by Mary Ann Drake of the North Carolina State University Sensory Service Center, we think we'd like to stick to the more conventional -- even played out -- terminology that we're used to.

Anyone who's really into cheese -- and we're not talking Kraft orange cheddar here -- knows that a fine block of cheddar or brie or goat is complex, multi-faceted and layered in flavors. Rather than rely on the age-old cheese words like salty, balanced or creamy, Drake came up with more, er, illustrative words to describe cheese taste and aromatics. The list she came up with is vivid (and not so pleasant). While her descriptors might be successful in fine-tuning the delicate flavors of beautiful cheeses, they've failed at making them appetizing in the least. Basically, they make us never want to eat cheese again.

Here are the eight worst ways anyone could possibly describe cheddar (even if they're 100 percent spot on):

  • 1 Sulfuric
    Flickr: Colin Devroe
  • Defined as: Aromatics associated with sulfurous boiled compounds. (Think: hard-boiled eggs.)
  • 2 Cowy
    Flickr: Pauline Smith
  • Defined as: Aromas associated with barns and stock trailers, indicative of animal sweat and waste. Basically, the lovely smell of a farm, translated into a taste you're eating.
  • 3 Brothy
    Flickr: bour3
  • Defined as: Aromatics associated with boiled meat or vegetable stock. (Broth is great for soup, but it's got no business with cheese.)
  • 4 Catty
    Flickr: Kevin Dooley
  • Defined as: Aroma associated with tom-cat urine. (WAIT, what???)
  • 5 Fecal
    Flickr: Max
  • Defined as: Aroma associated with complex protein decomposition. (OMGOMGOMG.)
  • 6 Cooked
    Flickr: Felicia
  • Defined as: Aromatics associated with cooked milk. (Because that's a flavor worth savoring.)
  • 7 Prickle or bite
    Flickr: Stuart Hall
  • Defined as: That chemical feeling factor of which the sensation of carbonation on the tongue is typical. (Carbonated cheese... we could get into that idea.)
  • 8 Scorched
    Flickr: jeremy jozwik
  • Defined as: Aroma associated with extreme heat treatment of milk proteins. (No, thank you!)

Pretty bad, right?

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