Monday, 9 August 2010

I like BIG ones

Having lived in England since 1998, I have got used to most things English. I thank the bus driver when getting off the bus, I have increased my tea consumption, I queue in an orderly manner - you know the things I mean. However, one thing this extremely adaptable and broad-minded Swede find it hard to accept is the way British people eat cheese.

It would be unfair to put the blame solely on the British as I feel exactly the same about the French. To be more precise, I should perhaps state it is not the cheese itself but the way it is being delivered that is the cause of my concern. More specifically, I am talking about how the packaging does not comply with the tool with which one eats it. And - I am talking about hard cheeses only.

Take breakfast, for example. Swedish people usually have slices of cheese on their bread, often adorned by slices of pepper, tomatoes or cucumber. I know, I know - we're so boringly correct & healthy. After all, we did invent the seat belt, so what do you expect? Oh, and dynamite.

Now then, to make proper slices you need an "osthyvel"- Swedish for cheese cutter.
Say after me: "Ost-hyv-el". Well done.
But unfortunately, these are far and few between in this country. You can get them at posh cookery type shops - or at IKEA, of course. But even if you are equipped with a proper "osthyvel", you will find that the shape of the cheese itself doesn't quite correspond to 'Swedish standards'. In other words, it is simply too thin. It won't take more than a few sandwiches to make this piece of cheese completely unworkable. Put it on its high side and it becomes too unstable and produces ridiculously tiny slices.

I am aware that the British way of Cheddar munching is more leaning towards little chunks, cut off with a knife, and meant to be eaten in a Ploughman environment. And the French façon is again, completely different and definitely requires du vin, du pain & du Boursin..

But I still would like a proper sized triangular piece of hard cheese. There. I've said it.
And - a final note, giving credit where credit is due: The "Osthyvel" was invented by a Norwegian - not a Swede. Heja Norge!


  1. If you want a good cheese-slicer buy one from "FISKARS" made in Finland. Stays sharp for donkeys years and if you would like to taste some good cheese buy "Kvibille Cheddar" from Halland

  2. I'm half Finnish, and grew up in Germany,so the cheese slicer is something I'm very familiar with! We do have two in our household, but I confess I don't really use it...mainly because any cheeses we buy are either too soft or too crumbly and don't have that ideal texture for slicing. Have always thought it is a pity, as slices are great!

  3. Ironically, Vasterbotten is now trailing at John Lewis Foodhall in Oxford St - and I spoke to the export manager who told me they had to change the pack size from 500g to 165g for the UK market as "nobody would buy it otherwise".

    Same with many other food products for the UK market from all over Scandinavia: people here buy smaller portions of the good stuff.

    Bronte (

  4. I buy huge chunks of Jarlsberg at the cheese counter in supermarkets from bemused folk who have never seen anyone pay £10 for a single piece!