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Fake cheese is an acquired lack of taste


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POSTED: Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I've developed a taste for a food-like commodity that is sold under the name "Fat Free Singles American Artificially Flavored Nonfat Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product."

Some people call it "fake cheese" but that is inaccurate. Fake cheese is "American cheese," those little yellow slices of goodness that decorate hamburgers across the country. Believe it or not, a lot of people hate American cheese and claim it is not even a member of the cheese family. So I can imagine how they would feel about Fat Free Singles American Artificially Flavored Nonfat Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product. (If you think the name is long, you should see the list of ingredients. It reads like the Periodic Table of Elements).

If American Cheese is fake cheese, then the item I've come to enjoy is fake American Cheese. That's getting pretty low down the food chain, possibly just north of "hockey puck."

But I like it. It tastes almost but not quite completely unlike cheese. Despite the long list of ingredients, I'm still not quite sure what it is. I doubt it contains anything along the dairy line. Even American cheese claims to contain something like milk in it. I suspect my cheesish delicacy is actually a petroleum product. It could be the only kind of cheese that comes from Saudi Arabia.

The good thing is that it is fat free so you can eat as much of it as you want. The other good thing is that you don't want much of it. Each slice is individually wrapped in plastic. The plastic wrap has more calories than the cheese stuff itself. (The plastic wrap also has a bit more flavor.)

  I was almost going to say that you can eat this cheesish material raw. But I don't think the word "raw" applies. These yellow slices are no more raw than a CD disk or drink coaster. Let's just say you can eat it uncooked. But I don't think you should.

It is best broiled, like on cheese toast. But this material has strange qualities when it is heated up. It doesn't melt like regular cheese. It sort of poufs up in a hollow dome and turns brown on top. The dome is crunchy and delicious but you have to be careful. Under the dome is searing hot liquid cheesish lava that will suddenly squirt into your mouth when you bite into the toast. The hellishly hot molten material quickly solidifies on the roof of your mouth like hot tar. And you can't get it off! You run around the kitchen screaming with your mouth open like the front of a jet fighter. It's best to poke a little hole in the lava dome and let the seething gelatinous substance inside cool down to below Martian surface conditions before you attempt to ingest it.

So why eat Fat Free Singles American Artificially Flavored Nonfat Pasteurized Prepared Product? It's true that it contains no nutrition to speak of. But unlike spinach, hamburger, salsa, mayonnaise and sometimes real cheese, this stuff has never been recalled. It simply can't go bad. It's scientifically inert so it can't make you sick. These days, that's saying a lot.