Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wensleydale Seeks Protection

Residents of Yorkshire are petitioning the British government to grant protected status to Wensleydale cheese, similar to the protections given to Parma ham and Champagne. If granted, it would mean manufacturers outside the Yorkshire dale would not be able to make cheese and call it Real Yorkshire Wensleydale.

Only 29 British food products have been granted protected status by the EU, compared with hundreds in countries like France, Italy and Germany.

According to Wikipedia, Wensleydale cheese was first made by French monks in the 12th century. The monks, who came from the Roquefort region and settled in Wensleydale, began with a recipe using sheep's milk, but during the 1300s cows' milk began to be used instead, and the character of the cheese began to change.

By the 1990s, sales of the cheese had sunk so low that production was at risk of being suspended. The animated characters Wallace and Gromit helped revive the popularity of the cheese in their film 'A Grand Day Out' -- but the uptick was totally unintentional. The animators said they made Wensleydale Wallace's favorite cheese because they like the way the word made him look when he was animated. The success of the films ended up bringing the factory back from the brink.

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