Michael Gove has surprised the nation with a demand for Britain to be more patriotic about cheese. Asked about the prospect of imported cheese prices rising by 40% if the UK crashed out of the EU without a deal, the environment secretary and Brexiter suggested we could focus more on the cheese we produce ourselves.
“I am deeply concerned about your unpatriotic attitude towards cheese,” Gove told the Labour MP Angela Smith at the environment, food and rural affairs committee in parliament.
“If it is the case that we end up on WTO terms then I’m sure that British farmers and British food producers will find the opportunity to meet demand in this and other areas.”
To help you feel more pride in British cheese, here are 12 varieties ranked in reverse order of patriotism.
There’s no mistaking the fact that Cornish Brie is named after a French cheese and is therefore not very patriotic at all. Unless you are eating it specifically to spite the French, in which case it scores highly on the “Up yours Delors” scale.
Patriotism rating: 1/10
Yorkshire Fine Fettle
This sounds like a good old Yorkshire cheese, but it was formerly called Yorkshire Feta, until that was outlawed because of the rules about geographic naming restrictions. A potential alternative for anyone who has ever found themselves buying Own Brand Bulgarian Salted Cheese from a corner shop in an emergency.
Patriotism rating: 2/10
This sounds quite patriotic, what with John Boyd Dunlop founding the famous tyre manufacturer in Birmingham back in Queen Victoria’s time, but Dunlop is a deceptively multi-national company now, and the cheese disappointingly doesn’t even contain any rubber. And the cheese is made in Scotland – it apparently goes nicely with a dram of whisky.
Patriotism rating: 2/10
Can it get more patriotically Britpop than Alex James from Blur naming a cheese after his favourite New Order song? May cause indigestion though if you aren’t a fan of the New Labour Cool Britannia years.
Patriotism rating: 4/10
Described as “a cross between a traditional west-country cheddar and a continental alpine cheese such as Comte”, Lincolnshire Poacher has been produced on a family-run farm since 1992, and it takes over a year to mature. Not to be confused with the mysterious numbers station of the same name.
Patriotism rating: 6/10 – including bonus points for cold war spying connotations
Teviotdale has to be produced within 90km of the summit of Peel Fell in the Cheviot hills, making it one of the UK’s niche cheeses. It may only appeal to Scottish patriots though, since according to the official government definition of the protected name, the emblem on the Teviotdale label “depicts the Hawick Cornet carrying a banner captured from English raiders at Hornshale after the battle of Flodden in 1514”.
Patriotism rating: 8/10 in Scotland, not so much in England
What could be more patriotic than a cheese named after the royal family?
Patriotism rating: Ma’am out of 10
Wyfe of Bath
Described as a “Gouda-style English cheese”, which makes it sound a little Dutch, this cheese nevertheless scores very highly on the British patriotism scale by being named after one of Chaucer’s pilgrims. It would have scored slightly higher if it had been named after one of the Canterbury Tales with the really rude bits in.
Patriotism rating: 8/10
The “red” might make it sound a bit communist, but Red Leicester gets its name because of the annatto dye added to it. Rules and regulations governing the sale and quality of the cheese date back to the 1750s, making it a classic British original.
Patriotism rating: 9/10
A cheese that has set a stunning example for the British export industry by inspiring the taste of the cheese on the moon, according to Wallace and Gromit at least.
Patriotism rating: Out of this world