You can't beat a good cheese grater. Cheese just tastes better in a sandwich once it has been grated. It's been proven by ACTUAL SCIENCE1 that this is the case: something about the increased surface area making it taste more zingy. Of course the cheese we are grating here is a nice mature cheddar, you can't grate Camembert or Stilton (well technically you can but why would you?). There are even cheeses that can be grated but don't deserve it, take Red Leicester for example: the ear wax of the cheese world.
But I digress. This post is a tribute to the humble cheese grater itself. Graters I have known and such like. My parents' cheese grater has lasted them all my life, a sturdy thing of good design. A truncated rectangular based pyramid with tapered sides and different surfaces for grating different substances: cheese, carrots, cheese, dried bread for bread crumbs, cheese, and yet more types of cheese.
I like that design. Grab the handle on top of the cheese grater with your left hand and grate a big block of cheddar into fluffy yellow ribbons with your right. It's "grate" stress relief! This might be because I think cheese on toast is the best comfort food ever (with Worcestershire sauce of course!) and so the grating might be part of the anticipation of that.
However, I now own one of those weird tub with a cheese grater on top contraptions. It took me a while to be sold on this but I now think they are really good. Previously if I grated too much I'd eat the excess or have an enormous sandwich that made me feel as fat as butter (I'm grating cheese for sandwiches ninety percent of the time). These days I can save the rest for a later time – and it's not losing weight or eating better that motivates me to use less cheese: it's because I can make my sandwich for work the next day without having to grate any more.
Then there is the shadowy business of buying pre-grated cheese. For me getting the cheese grater out is so therapeutic that I don't think I could abandon myself entirely to this particular vice. There are lots of other reasons too, apparently. Nevertheless I do buy grated parmesan because it's so expensive I might as well have it industrially grated for me. And mozzarella for when I'm making pizzas from scratch, if you're all caught up in making the dough it's good to save time on grating the cheese.
How about you? Do you favour the tall grater or the weird tub? What's the strangest thing you've ever had to grate for a recipe? Get in touch and tell me! I’m off to grate enough cheese for the rest of this week’s sandwiches.
- May not actually be proved by actual science, QI is not a peer-reviewed scientific journal. ↩