Dear Matt: Why do some cheeses smell like people’s feet and vice versa? 2. Who deduced that the extract from a sheep’s stomach was the missing essential ingredient for cheese making? — Curious, North Park
Stinky cheese means bacteria have spoiled the milk to the perfect ripeness and full flavorosity. They’ve had time to multiply and break down the fat and protein and release smelly molecules. Stinky feet means that similar microbes are multiplying nicely in your warm, wet toe folds and ripening your Nikes like fine Gorgonzola. Feet, cheese — bacteria don’t know the difference. In a related matter, I’m sure you gourmets will be appalled to realize that truffles and athlete’s foot are kissing cousins too, part of the same fungal family tree. 2. When the first guy or gal decided that an animal’s stomach would make a pretty good storage container, then put in some milk, and ended up with cheese, that’s probably when the connection was made. Rennet is the enzyme in question. The technique dates back several thousand years.