Think you know about cheese? Try this quiz

array of cheese

Cheese comes in hundreds of flavors and is made all over the world, most commonly from the milk of sheep, goats, cows and buffalo. But such variety wasn't always the norm. The earliest cheeses were simple and eaten quickly, not aged. The origin of cheese was likely a result of the accident of carrying fresh milk in canteens made of animal stomachs (which naturally contain rennet, the enzyme that causes milk to separate into curds and whey). When people realized that cheese would keep much longer than the milk it was made from, cheese became a smart way to store and transport its good fats and protein.  

Question 1 of 12

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A cheesemonger in England.
What is a specialist seller of cheese called?

A cheesemonger sells only cheese (and maybe butter). The word originates in Chaucerian England, where other mongers (another word for brokers or dealers) included ironmongers and fishmongers. 

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Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Early archeological evidence suggests that the ancient Egyptians ate cheese. What modern cheese was this ancient cheese similar to?

Early cheeses were probably most similar to Feta, as they were made in the warmer climates of the Middle East and northern Africa and needed plenty of salt for preservation; when cheesemaking came to Europe, the cooler temperatures meant cheeses would age well and didn't need as much salt. 

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In 2012, a cheesemaker found a block of Cheddar in the back of his fridge that was still edible; how old was it?

Ed Zahn of the Wisconsin Cheese Mart in Milwaukee had been aging a block of cheese in the back of a cooler since the Nixon administration. He sold chunks of it to local restaurants, and it was a popular treat — apparently quite tangy, with a flavor more similar to a 5-year-old Cheddar than something much, much older. 

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What well-known leader once said, "How can you govern a country in which there are 246 kinds of cheese?"

Charles de Gaulle, then-president of France, famously spoke those words. France and Italy both boast about 400 cheeses each, but Britain takes the lead with more than 700 types of cheese unique to the island nation. 

Question 5 of 12

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Mouse eating big block of cheese
Tsekhmister /Shutterstock
A 2005 study by the British Cheese Council found that eating cheese prior to bedtime resulted in what benefit?

Cheese contains tryptophan, which can reduce stress and promote good sleep, so it should come as no surprise that in a small study (which included only British cheeses), people reported better sleep over a two-week period after eating cheese at bedtime compared to a control group who ate nothing. 

Question 6 of 12

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A blue cheese.
Daniel Panev/Flickr
Since 1944, U.S. law has dictated that cheese made with raw milk must be aged for how many days before it can be sold?

Both imports and domestic cheeses made with raw milk must be aged for 60 days before being sold for consumption in the U.S.

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How does Swiss cheese get its holes?

The "eyes" of Swiss cheese are formed when bacteria consumes lactic acid and releases acetate, propionic gas and carbon dioxide. 

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Moldy Blue Cheese.
Why is the mold in blue cheese OK to eat?

Only some molds are poisonous. Not only are the molds in blue cheese nontoxic (the conditions in which they grow disallow toxic chemicals to be produced by the mold), but they may even be healthy, since they are naturally antibacterial.   

Question 9 of 12

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Cottage cheese can contain as little as 4% fat, while the richest cheeses, say a triple-cream Brie, contain how much fat?

A rich Brie or Camembert can be as much as 35 percent fat — or even a bit more. 

Question 10 of 12

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grilled cheese sandwich
Photo: msheldrake/Shutterstock
In which country was the grilled cheese sandwich developed?

Sure, the French have been cooking up Croque-Monsieurs (and Madames) for more than a century, and the Brits love their cheese on toast, but the first cheese sandwiches — with two slices of bread and cheese in the middle — that were grilled, not toasted, were made in the United States in the 1960s. 

Question 11 of 12

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A Star Wars figure with a lightsaber attempting to cut a block of orange cheese.
JD Hancock/Flickr
Why are some cheeses dyed orange?

Milk from grass-fed cows contains beta-carotene, which looks dark yellow or light-orange when concentrated in cheese. Historically, lower-quality cheeses used less milkfat, so the lighter color was a clue to its quality. Cheesemakers added color to solve that problem, a trend that continues today. Only cheese made from grass-fed cow's milk is naturally yellow or orange.

Question 12 of 12

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A sign that reads "stinky feet" at a carnival.
Rusty Clark/Flickr
Limburger cheese, one of the stinkiest, is fermented with bacteria that's also found where?

The bacteria B. linens used to make Limburger is also naturally found on the human body — which is one reason some people say the cheese smells like stinky feet. However the taste is much less strong and is quite nutty, which is why the cheese has so many fans.