Fish and Cheese Are an Awesome Couple.

 

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When it comes to cooking, there are a few old-fashioned rules that most home cooks consider sacrosanct, and even though they don’t necessarily make sense, many observe them religiously. One old-school rule, now pretty much flouted by everyone, is the practice of serving red wine only with meat and white wine with fish. Another so-called fish-rule many of us grew up with was, “fish and cheese don’t go together.”

Why this stigma? Certainly we are fond of other meats prepared with cheese; beef and cheese are famously paired together in dishes like Beef Macaroni and Cheese,  cheeseburgers, and lasagna. And Chicken Cordon Bleu  proves that cheese is great with both chicken and pork. So whence and wherefore this bias against the pairing of fish and cheese?

 

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Ricardo’s Lobster Thermidor

 

According to The Smithsonian, one possible explanation is that fish and other seafood have a “delicate constitution” that can easily be overpowered by an overzealous cheese sauce, or a strong, heady cheese. This may fall under the category of common sense, but there are many other dishes that pair fish and cheese together beautifully. Crab melts, tuna melts and lobster thermidor immediately spring to mind,. Lox and cream cheese? Check. Jamie Oliver’s Smoked Mackerel pate? Yes please.

 

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Jamie Oliver’s Smoked Mackerel Paté

 

Another theory regarding the origin of the separation of fish and cheese, especially in Italian cuisine, comes down to a simple matter of geography; the most famous traditional cheese-making regions of Italy are all landlocked, without access to fresh fish or seafood, so in Italian gastronomy these two are strange bedfellows, and the cuisine of that nation never married the two. This is not the case with the cuisine of other nations, but the Italian taboo took root in North America, most likely through word of mouth or something akin to urban legend, and then just became, like most fashions, an unwritten rule.

At any rate, some fish and shellfish do marry well with certain cheeses; a whole generation of Canadians grew up on Tuna Casserole, one of the world’s best comfort foods; even legendary food guru Martha Stewart has a version of Tuna Casserole! What could be better for an evening of binge-watching your favourite Christmas specials?

 

a true Christmas classic featuring Tori Spelling!

A true holiday classic featuring Tori Spelling. #cheesymovies

 

So this holiday season, drop the hang-ups and put these two star-crossed lovers together. If you’re having a few guests over for a visit, include a super simple appetizer like Jamie’s mackerel paté or Chez Piggy’s  smoked salmon paté on the platter beside the chopped liver. How can anything that tastes so right be wrong?

Chez Piggy Smoked Salmon Paté

7 oz smoked salmon

8 oz cream cheese

1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

¼ cup lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

Place salmon in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add cream cheese, dill and lemon juice and blend until mixed. Season with pepper to taste.

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