Cheese Travel In China
If you’re a cheese lover and looking for your next cheese travel adventure, look no further. When one thinks of traveling through China, cheese is not the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, thinking about cheese in China makes one wonder: “yeah, why can’t I think of a good Chinese cheese?”
A little-known fact is the lactose intolerance is much more prevalent in East Asia than the rest of the world. Due to this fact, soy was generally the form of protein that was favored in the majority of East Asian countries.
Fear not cheese lovers, in small pockets of China there have been long traditions of cheese making. And cheese continues to become more popular and consequently more prevalent in China. This article will serve as a guide for the cheese lover’s tour of China.
Cheese Culture in China
In China, it is estimated that more than 90% of the population has some type of lactose intolerance. This has stymied the growth of the cheese market until recently.
But a number of factors have contributed to an explosion the Chinese cheese market. First, it should be pointed out that since people have varying degrees of lactose intolerance. Just because someone has an intolerance to a raw lactose containing product like milk, it does not necessarily mean that their body cannot digest cheese without a problem.
Why Is Cheese Becoming important Now?
In the 1990s Western chain restaurants began to proliferate in China and a whole new generation of Chinese came to taste cheese for the first time.
Whether it was on a pizza or a burger, the flavor was an exotic pleasure that people wanted more of. As cheese culture began to grow in China the tastes of those who were enjoying cheese began to expand and change.
Interestingly, the ascent of cheese in China has paralleled the rise of wine and the two phenomena are somewhat intertwined.
The rise of wine in China is a complex story that has to do with several factors, which shifted in a new direction to pave the way for cheese. One of the key factors was that the rise in the number of affluent Chinese created a larger market for Western luxury goods and wine became a major import.
Wine and cheese are often paired together and as China became more sophisticated about how they consumed wine, cheese became a natural accompaniment. There are now numerous wine bars and restaurants in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai that offer wine and cheese pairings.
As a result, cheese has become a coveted import and the demand has created a market for domestically produced cheese as well. Amazingly, “cheese sales in China rose by 20% in 2015 to 3.5bn yuan (about $540 m), compared with a year earlier, and average unit prices increased 3%, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.”
How to make cheese part of your next trip to China
The Exotic Cheeses of Beijing
If you are visiting Beijing, a trip to Le Fromager de Pekin is a must. The shop is the result of the passions of one man, Liu Yang, whose desire to learn more about cheese-making inspired him to study in France.
He created Beijing Grey, the first cheese in China to be made in the camembert-style. His passion continued to grow after the initial creation.
He now makes over a dozen carefully crafted cheeses in order to provide cheese-lovers in Beijing with “a taste of France away from France.”Although Le Fromager de Pekin is the top destination for a cheese aficionado to visit in Beijing, there are a number of places for foodies to revel in delightful cheeses.
Wenyu Cheese Shop offers some tantalizing options that regularly inspire a line down the block of people who are eager to try their custard-like creamy milk curd.
If you are in the mood for cheese Beijing has something for everyone from wine and cheese pairings consisting of some of Europe’s finest cheeses to cheeses that are distinctly Chinese.
The Ancient Cheese Culture of Mongolia
Cheese has a deep history on the periphery of modern China. The Mongolians have used cheese as a basis for their diet for millennia because their itinerant lifestyle in challenging climates created a need for eating a great deal of meat and cheese.
Yak’s milk cheese is common and is used as a base for traditional soups. Byaslag is a cheese that is traditionally made of yak’s or cow’s milk, it is a mild and unripened cheese.
Cheese Discovery in the Yunnan Province
The Yunnan province, located in the southwestern corner of China, is known for its idyllic landscape. The mountains, rivers, lakes, and extensive biodiversity (it is the most diverse province in China) make it an ideal destination for travelers looking to explore the surreal beauty of China.
The province’s unique climate is transforming it into an intriguing destination for vintners searching for the best place to grow the finest wine in China.
What many people who are exploring the breathtaking views and burgeoning wine industry might miss is their unique cheese. In Yunnan cheese has been made for generations. The cheese produced in Yunnan is certainly unique, a product of centuries of experimentation and accumulated knowledge.
Their two main kinds of cheese are rubing and rushan. Rubing is a firm cheese made from goat’s milk (occasionally it is made from sheep’s milk). The cheese can be eaten raw but it is generally enjoyed cooked because it is so firm that it doesn’t melt.
For this reason, rubing has drawn comparisons to halloumi cheese. It is fried and occasionally grilled. Often, rubing is consumed by adding it to stir fry where it serves a similar function as tofu.
Rushan is often translated as “milk fan,” which is due to its fan-like appearance when stretched. Rushan is generally made of cow’s milk and is a versatile cheese. The cheese is flat and is often described as being a little on the leathery side.
Like rubing, the cheese is also grilled and fried. But the most popular way to enjoy it is rolled up on a stick like a cheese lollipop. The cheese-on-a-stick is then often dipped in exotic coatings including chocolate, honey, and fruit preserves.
Let Us Know
Now you have everything you need to know to make your next trip to China an adventure in cheese exploration. We’d like to hear what you have found in China. Are there any Chinese cheeses that you’ve tried that should be added to this list? Have you been on a cheese adventure in China? We would love your feedback.
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He has written for The Permaculture Research Institute and Uisio among other prominent outlets.
He is the author of Death: An Exploration (2016). For more visit his official website: www.lorenmayshark.com
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