Let’s just get the most controversial cheese out of the way: Velveeta gets a bum rap. But hating on Velveeta is like hating on the scrawny kid at Target who, inexplicably, always seems to find you and ask if “you need help finding anything?” even though you just told him, like, forty seconds ago in the shampoo aisle, “Nope, I’m good, thanks though.” Yeah, he’s kinda being leechy. Yeah, he’s Gollum-like in the way he seems to crouch from behind the end cap of Archer Farms trail mix to check up on you. Yeah, you suspect he might not actually be a Target employee, just a guy in a red shirt and khakis, because for some reason he isn’t wearing a name tag.
What was I talking about again? Oh yeah: Velveeta, like the Target puppy-human, is just trying to make your life better. You think you dislike it, but really you just don’t appreciate it. If you go into Velveeta expecting anything other than a pasteurized cheese product, you’re a) going to be disappointed, and b) stupid. But I’m gonna slap your mouth and call you a dirty lying son of a bastard if you try to claim that Velveeta con salsa, or (praise Cheesy Jesus) Velveeta Shells and Cheese aren’t some of the tastiest gnoshes you could gnosh while in your sweatpants on the couch watching Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.
To show my sincere appreciation for the cultural value of Velveeta, I’m going to share the Corn Casserole recipe that’s a long-time absolute must at family holiday dinners (or just whenever mom makes meatloaf). It is so good, your taste buds will actually start crying.
1 cup of chopped Velveeta squares
1 cup of macaroni noodles
1 stick of butter (yes, a whole stick)
1 can of cream corn
1 can of regular corn (i.e. corn that wishes it was creamy)
Some chopped onions, however much you want
Mix all that shit up in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes covered, then another 30 minutes uncovered. Easy cheesy peasy.
Then e-mail me and thank me personally. But if anybody finds you dead and bloated face down in a giant bowl of this stuff à la the gluttony dude in Seven, we never had this conversation.
Overall Cheese Rating (OCR): 7/10
I fail to see where you could go wrong with the tasty convenience of cheese in a ball form. The only way this holiday staple could be improved upon is if the balls were small enough that I could pop them into my mouth individually, instead of relying on a Ritz and feeding into Big Cracker’s monopoly on holiday food transportation methods.
It’s literally just a bunch of other awesome stuff like smoked beef, minced onion, and Worcestershire sauce (pronounced “Worchestercrhestrechestester”). Some recipes even call for shredded cheddar to be added. SOME CHEESE BALLS HAVE CHEESE IN THEIR CHEESE. THAT IS JUST CRAZY TALK. My only beef with cheese balls is that sometimes my mom leaves it in the fridge too long, and trying to penetrate the outer pecan layer feels like trying to find the one weak thermal exhaust port on the Death Star. Once I manage to, that ball is gone-zo, but it ain’t an easy feat.
Overall Cheese Rating: 8/10
I have an affinity for British cheeses, and Huntsman is perfect for those holiday cheese platters wherein you want to have a firm, tangy sliced cheese and a creamy, crumbly blue cheese, but don’t want the hassle of opening a whole two packages (who the hell am I, the Barefoot Contessa?). Huntsman is layers of Double Gloucester striped with layers of Blue Stilton, and will immediately class up any cheese platter that’s otherwise plagued (read: blessed) with plebeian cheeses like Colby Jack. It tastes STUPID good, it’s multi-textured like a Fruit Gusher, and I have a hunch it’d make an absolutely spectacular…no, wait. Hang on. Give me like twenty minutes.
Yep, it makes an absolutely spectacular grilled cheese sandwich.
Huntsman: two totally normal un-fancy cheeses that got real fancified simply by smooshing them together.
Overall Cheese Rating: 9.5/10
Brie gets an A in deliciousness and an F in execution.
Nary a holiday spread lacks a wheel of brie with a jar of red pepper jelly poured over it. Brie has direct daily flights to FancyPants International Airport. It’s a sacred member of the cheese family, but I have never seen a plate of Brie not get mauled beyond recognition by partygoers, half of whom reluctantly eat the mold rind (nobody actually likes eating it; anybody who does probably ate glue as a kid) and the other half of whom avoid it like it’s a layer of cholera-laced asbestos by digging the creamy bit out of the middle with the cheese knife.
Listen to me: EAT THE FLIPPING RIND. IT IS NOT GOING TO KILL YOU. There is a right way to do these things, people, a level of decorum that we need to maintain as a society lest we lose it to the apes and hyper-intelligent giant sewer rats. How would you like it if somebody came up to your nicely sliced pizza and just hacked a chunk out of one of the pieces with a fork? OH HELL NO, COMPADRE. SPIT IT OUT, PUT IT BACK, AND GO SIT OVER THERE AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE. Brie is to be cut radially so as to be enjoyed in segments. If you want to maul your own Brie chunk, hunched over it in the corner of the dining room like a feral cat, be my guest. But don’t ruin the Brie-sperience for the rest of us.
Ugh, God, I’m sorry, I just fucking hate it when the communal Brie wheel gets all janked.
Overall Cheese Rating: 7.5/10
Spray cheese only has two functions: as a topping for Chicken in a Biskit chicken-flavored chicken crackers, or being sprayed directly into your mouth and then presented to everyone else in the room before you swallow it, like you’re some sort of sideshow freak. Spray cheese is about as unnatural as cheese can get; that we receive it into our mouths via the same technological application as we dispense deodorants, pesticides, and spray paints should perhaps give us pause. I mean it never will, obviously, for as long as there is need to draw dicks on crackers, there will be spray cheese. The cheese in the can is perfectly edible, but the little dried-up niblet that plugs up the nozzle after thirty minutes of non-use is a highly potent poison and if you eat it you will die. Resembles actual cheese in the same way that Dumb and Dumberer resembles Dumb and Dumber, but I bet drunk you will get three-quarters of the way through either before you realize something’s fundamentally off.
Overall Cheese Rating: 4/10
Swiss cheese, or “Emmentaler” for those people who also call their house their “humble abode” and own, like, a bitcoin, is okay I guess. It’s usually greasy, crusty slices of Swiss that are the last remaining on a cheese platter, and it sorta feels like a rip off because where there are holes there could be more cheese. Amazing on burgers, spectacular with fondue, but eat enough of it by itself and it just starts to taste like burps. If you have need for a cheese that holds tiny toothpick flags pretty well, like if you’re dolling up an international cheese spread, Swiss is good at that. If it weren’t for cheddar, Swiss would be the cheddar of cheeses.
Overall Cheese Rating: 5/10
Cream Cheese Shrimp Dip
Take two bricks of cream cheese. Plate those suckers. Pour a jar of cocktail sauce over them. Now, assuming you’ve bought out your local grocer’s entire supply of bags of tiny shrimp, pour a minimum of eleven thousand shrimp on the cheese/sauce stuff. Voilà! You’ve made the one cheese-based holiday dish my mom refuses to let me help make, because I’ll just mouth-hoover it up as I go along! The World Trade Organization has blacklisted me from purchasing my own tiny tasty shrimpies in quantities I normally would come mid-December, as I have been found in violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This is what cream cheese was made for. This is what shrimp are born for. This is what plates were invented for. Book me a time slot Maury, because I love cream cheese shrimp dip more than I will love my first born, and your lie detector will determine that is the TRUTH.
Overall Cheese Rating: 10/10