The definitive ranking of cheese from worst to best
In partnership with Primula
If you don't like cheese you are, quite frankly, a heathen
There are few things quite like the Great British love of cheese. Whether on toast or cracker or biscuit. With wine or without. On a plate or wooden board or simply the entire wheel, sweating, eaten straight out of your hand. There is nothing we enjoy as much as a large slab of cheese.
It's why it is brought out at every party or family gathering. It is why it is readily available - in some form - as a starter in every single restaurant you will ever go to. It is why it covers our pizzas and our burgers and our sandwich meats and our pasta dishes. We can't get enough of the stuff.
But, in an (in)complete ranking different kinds of cheese, from the plastic American slices right through to the stinky blue variant, which comes out on top? Friends, once more, let us find out. Together.
Cottage cheese is bullshit. I'm not wasting my time explaining to you why that is. Just look at it, accept the fact, and move on. Thank you.
(Look at it)
Obviously, this cheese is the best cheese in the world when you are like, I don't know, six years old and are still a slave to brightly coloured, chemically enhanced, processed nonsense.
Unfortunately for the orange, plastic-looking, plastic-tasting sliced version of cheese from the land of the free and the home of the brave, people grow up. And you realise that it isn't really cheese at all. It's nothing like cheese. It's no cheese at all.
I don't know how else to say it: I just fundamentally distrust Red Leicester. It has a threatening aura. There's just something ominous about it.
Stilton/Basically any blue cheese
"Oh, no, it only smells terrible, like actual rancid garbage that hasn't showered in weeks, because it is part of the experience. You just don't get it. Oh, and it only tastes even worse than it smells because you haven't developed your tastebuds. Your palate hasn't matured. You're just, haha, a little bit uncultured I'm afraid. You'll get there one day."
Absolutely hyped to fuck by those notorious cheese-fantasists Wallace & Gromit, Wensleydale was just a crushing disappointment whenever you first tried it. Even worse, it has to rely on the addition of cranberries alongside it. Can't even stand before you, on its own two legs, and be judged on the strength of its own character. For what it really is. A cowardly cheese.
Actually, no, I get that. I get why it always needs cranberries or apricots or some other random fruit to hide behind. Because it is bland. The worst crime imaginable for a cheese. (Apart from being blue).
Speaking of bland cheese, here's Emmental to stand too close to you in the pub and breathe on you out of their nostrils and tell you in agonising detail all of the reasons why it only drinks wheat beer and how its park run times have been steadily improving over the past month.
A plain cheese. An uninspiring cheese. Edam is just... OK, isn't it? It's alright. It's fine. Acceptable. Palatable. Maybe I'm just bitter because I never had Babybels in my packed lunches at school - I don't know - but I just see Edam and I feel next to nothing.
I remain suspicious of feta cheese because you only ever eat it on salads. Can it... can it be that good?
If something was actually good, you wouldn't dare tarnish its reputation by exclusively consuming it with green leaf vegetables and the odd tomato. If it was actually good you'd sprinkle it over your pasta and/or melt it over a pizza. I'm sorry but you would. Feta can't be that great. I'm sorry. It just can't be.
The Ed Sheeran of cheeses.
Like everyone, I liked halloumi the first time I ate it. People had raved about it and sure, my eyes widened as the semi-hard brined cheese began coursing through my veins and arteries. And then I had it a second time. And it was still good, but noticeably less good. People were still raving about it. And then I had it a third time, and it was only quite good. And everyone continued telling me how good halloumi is. And I was like yeah, agreed, and said the usual things like "it's amazing isn't it? It's just soooo good" even if I didn't really believe it.
And then I had it a fourth time. And it was a bit disappointing. All whilst everyone kept telling me how amazing halloumi is. And now it is just 'meh'. It is extremely 'meh'. It is, unfortunately, Ed Sheeran. Fairly pleasant, overwhelming popular, inoffensive.
And it is no longer a staple part of my Nando's order. Which tells you everything you need to know.
Gouda is a fine cheese, a perfectly good cheese, but it's not a standout cheese. It's consistent, dependable and always there on pub cheeseboards, but it's not your favourite cheese, is it? It's nobody's favourite cheese. It's a 7/10 cheese. It's the Dutch James Milner of cheeses. So... the Georginio Wijnaldum of cheeses. Basically. Which is still, obviously, dead good.
The cheese halloumi wishes it was. Paneer looks the same and feels the same in your mouth but is way more flavoursome. Arguably the Lewis Capaldi to halloumi's Ed Sheeran. Arguably. The case could be made.
You're going to get angry with me here, particularly if you are French, particularly if you are from either Normandy or Brie, but Brie and Camembert are basically the same thing. I'm not writing two separate captions on what is, essentially, the exact same thing.
As a result, here's Brie Larson, who, whilst not being a luxurious, soft, cow's milk cheese, still merits her place in the upper echelon of cheeses. And fair play to her. She's earned it. Somehow.
To sit in your underwear in the living room with your feet up and to slowly dangle some melted camembert and bread into your mouth is to reach out and touch the face of God. That's it. That's the caption.
Parmigiano-Reggiano. Where would we be without you? Our spag bols wouldn't be the same. Our pasta dishes wouldn't be the same. And look, I know that parmesan only really works as a topping onto food rather than a standalone cheese itself. The same stone I so eagerly cast at feta.
But ask yourself this: have you ever, ever, honestly, watched the waiter sprinkle enough parmesan on your food? You don't say 'when' because you've actually had enough parmesan. Nobody does. You say it out of politeness.
I could watch the poor soul sprinkle it for several minutes, until the bowl is nothing but a small mountain of crumbling parmesan, until my pasta is completely submerged under a frankly horrific amount of grated cheese, and still feel that, deep down, that, yeah, yeah I could probably do with a bit more on my fettuccini. And that fact is nothing other than a testament to parmesan's lasting, unconquerable greatness.
You've... you've eaten a pizza haven't you?
You've... you've eaten mozzarella sticks before, haven't you?
You've... you've sat and devoured a giant mozzarella wheel filled with soft creamy cheese and then immediately regretted it afterwards, haven't you?
Yes you have, and you've fucking loved it, so don't even start pretending you're annoyed that a cheese like mozzarella is ranked this high. Just stop. It's embarrassing. You're embarrassing yourself. You're not fancy because you'd rather see an obscure blue cheese in the top two. Please just stop it. Cease and desist. That is an order.
Obviously, cheddar is the best cheese. It is a whole spectrum of cheese unto itself. From mild to extra mature, cheddar cheese has it all. It has everything you could possibly ever want from a cheese.
It's the tastiest, the most versatile, the most consistent and, in my humble opinion, undefeated when it comes to melting it onto bread for cheese on toast/a grilled sandwich - the purest, most fundamentally enjoyable way of consuming cheese that there is.
Cheddar is number one. Cheddar has to be number one.