Cheese-Lovers Breathe a Sigh of Relief

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Food lovers breathed a sigh of relief today when news broke that the U.S. was dropping threatened tariffs on luxury food imports from Europe.

"Cheese war ends, everybody wins," Foreign Policy declared in its Passport blog, encouraging its readers to enjoy a celebratory cheeseburger.

These taxes--which would have pushed the markup on French Roquefort cheese from 100 percent to a whopping 300 percent--never actually went into effect. But the food world had been making provisions just in case.

The famed Murray's Cheese Shop threw a goodbye party for the popular blue cheese, saying they couldn't continue to sell it at a profit. More than 60 Chicago-area restaurants banded together to protest the 100 percent bump in Italian bottled water prices. And at least one chef had to make peace with altering the ingredients in his signature dish.

Now it seems the partying, protesting, and preparing can cease. (Actually, NBC's New York blog suggested having a "Bonjour, Roquefort" fête, so maybe not...) But if the threat of these tariffs should ever return and anyone should need to resort to smuggling fine foreign foods into the country, look no further than The Food Channel for advice. Back in March, Corby Kummer wrote about his strategy for getting cheese past border control's contraband-sniffing dogs:

Get the store to seal it in Cryovac, then free the sweaty, imprisoned cheese and rewrap it in wax-coated paper as soon as you get home.

And if you're curious what all the fuss was about in the first place, here is our expert purveyor, Ari Weinzweig, on why Roquefort is one of is "top ten cheeses," from his book Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating:

It has a seductive softness to its texture--at room temperature it's almost velvety smooth; it will literally melt on your tongue, like a perfect chocolate truffle. Although blue cheeses are often chastised for their pungent aromas, the smell of a soft wedge of ripe Roquefort is enticing: earthy, buttery, exquisite. Most of all, there is the flavor--big, bold, with a hint of butterscotch; the finish is substantial and lingering.

Experts recommend serving Roquefort at room temperature, or several degrees lower than a fuming cheesemonger forced to pay an enormous tariff.

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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