Grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, cheese steak, cheesecake, cheese wiz, cream cheese; cheese is a good thing. And a good thing like cheese deserves its own club, right? Right. That is why last semester Gearet Fitzpatrick and Anthony Rice decided to create a club dedicated to the delicious and versatile dairy byproduct.
Fitzpatrick, an animal science major, wanted to see the food science side, but didn’t want to take all the pre-requisites required for such classes. This, along with his love for cheese, led to the inception of the Penn State Cheese Club. The first meeting consisted only of him, the rest of the executive board, and his roommates. But by the second meeting, they had more people than the room could hold.
Unfortunately, this is not a gathering of any and all cheese lovers who just sit around eating cheese, wearing cheese related clothing, and entertaining each other with cheese puns. Sigh.
Instead it is actually a club that informs members about various cheese manufacturing processes. Their mission: “the purpose of the Penn State Cheese Club is to provide an environment in which people with an interest in cheese can come together and learn more about its production, presentation, and consumption.”
So what exactly takes place at a Cheese Club meeting? “We start off with business… It’s pretty laid back. We always have some sort of presentation or have someone come in,” said Fitzpatrick.
Okay, so they talk about cheese, but wait there’s more! “We have a tasting every meeting.” Free cheese! Each meeting members try a cheese that in some way relates to the presentation. “We try to have something at every meeting that’s worth coming for,” said Fitzpatrick. “Plus, there’s always gonna be cheese and you can expand your pallet.”
Next week, which will be the first meeting of this semester, a presenter will discuss cave-aged cheese. No, this is not cheese that’s been chillin’ with the cavemen since prehistoric times. Instead, it is a process of aging cheese in a manmade cave creating the perfect environment for the cheese to do its thing.
As for personal preferences, Fitzpatrick prefers his cheese plain, with a nice wine or craft beer, and maybe even throw in some seasonal fruit. His favorite kind is Gruyere. “It’s got flavor, but its still subtle,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a good cheese. And it pairs well with red wine.”
So knowledgeable about cheese and its uses, Fitzpatrick’s favorite thing about cheese is, “the presentation of it, how you can make it so elegant and so classy. I guess it’s more of a marketing thing, but it really impresses me how you can take not so great cheese and make it great.” Meanwhile, I’d be more than willing to settle for Grillers and a diet soda. R.I.P.
Don’t like cheese? Well either a. you’re weird, or b. you haven’t given cheese a chance. According to Fitzpatrick, “I’d tell them they haven’t tried enough cheeses. There’s such a variety, there has to be one kind of cheese they like.” Haters gonna hate. Graters gonna grate… cheese.
The Cheese Club meets on the first Thursday of every month in the Food Science Building. Boasting between 30 to 40 members, all those passionate about cheese are welcome, and Fitzpatrick hopes that even more food science students will join and to gain more long term members.