Monday, May 2, 2011

Belin Croustilles Emmental

(‘Swiss’ Cheese Flavored Cheetos)

I’ve ranted in an earlier review that the only cheese known to North America is cheddar cheese.  But this isn’t really true- your average elementary students can also name another variety: Swiss cheese, the kind that mice like to eat in nursery school books.  That we call all white, salty, holey cheese Swiss cheese is particularly infuriating for the French, and remains the source of an ongoing dispute with their usually-neutral neighbors to the east, for both countries produce a variety of salty white cheeses which in both countrys are known as gruyere, but which the Swiss insist were originally of their devising.  The dispute with their halberd-wielding compatriots is especially tragic given that gruyere was apparently developed in a region that straddled the boundaries of both Switzerland and France before either existed as a country.
Quoth Wikipedia: "the first cheese from
Switzerland to win the title World
Champion at the Wisconsin (USA)
Cheese World Championships in 2006"
            Now amidst the many varieties of so-called “Swiss Cheese”, Emmentaler (or Emmental) is the most prototypical of the type you find in American grocery stores, and is kind of a light-weight, being the least‘sharp’ in flavor, but traditionally comes sporting lots of cheese holes, (a result of CO2 bubbles that escaped the cheese pressing, traditionally a sign of imperfection) unlike your proper French-or-Swiss gruyere.  My mom despises it as being rubbery and flavorless, while I kind of like it for its soft and oily texture- however the criticism that it is light on flavor compared to a Beaufort or even Comté is deserved.  Nevertheless, I was highly intrigued to see what amounted to ‘Emmental’ flavored Cheetos on sale, hoping for some paradigm shifting experience with chips that were for once representing a specific variety of European cheese rather than cheddar.
            Well, I’m must sadly report, that like various much heralded permanent political majorities, paradigm-shift there was not to be.  The first major impression that crossed my mind was that the flavor reminded me of cheesy popcorn.  In fact the savor is distinctly different from Cheetos, but is rather in the vein of creamier and less salty cheese flavors you can find on various American savory snacks.  While the taste is not actually that original, the experience improves with extended eating as you begin to pick out little nuances in the seasoning.  The package assures us that the product is made of 6.4% powdered cheese, of which Emmental makes up 4.7%.  If you do the math, that means that actual Emmental cheese content of the package is .3%, which leaves a little be desired in the same way that we might feel that the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was maybe a little treacherous.  And yet, sometimes while munching meditatively on these mostly-not-Emmentaler croustilles, I felt like I could detect a faint glimmer of that real Emmental flavor shining through, like the last shreds of a decency in a villain’s black heart.

After I'm done crashing my car into
a helicopter, I weep quietly to myself and
write emo love poetry to ease the pain of
my sensitive soul.

            The croustilles themselves have to be praised, for they are extra creamy and oily, and have a nice soft crunch that reveals a softer inner density, like all those brutal action heroes with a gentle heart underneath all the gun-fu and neck-snapping expertise.  Combined with the buttery cheese flavor, the Emmental Croustilles do deliver a qualitatively different experience from Cheetos, and are equally addictive in their own way.  Sadly, they don’t distinguish themselves as much from standard cheese flavoring as I would have liked, and the initial impressions still lend themselves to less-classy junk food associations.

Stars: 2½/4
Spiciness Rating: none

- Softer, creamier cheese flavor an interesting change from the standard Cheetos flavor
- Crunch and oily exterior with softer interior offers excellent texture

- Not as different from other mass-market cheese flavorings as one would hope
- More Emmental needed!


  1. j'espère que cela n'a pas fabriqué avec la dangereuse huile de palme aussi bien pour la santé que pour la nature ....

    La liste d’ingrédients indique que ils sont produit avec la « matière grasse végétale»- des « trans-fats » qui sont mauvais pour la santé (et même interdit en Denmark et New York !) Ca ne spécifie pas si c’est fait avec du huile de canola en particulière, mais c’est claire que ce n’est pas très bon pour la santé !
    The ingredients list indicates that the crisps are made with ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable fat »- a trans-fat, which is particularly unhealthy and banned in Denmark and New York. It doesn’t indicate whether it uses canola oil specifically, but clearly these aren’t very healthy!

  3. I "discovered" these at Charles DeGaulle Airport and, Phillistine that I( am, I just loved them. Plain and simple. Wish I'd taken home more than the 2 bags I did return to the newstand to get, but I might look into ordering them shipped to me on-line. If not, I'll just have to return to Paris.

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