Perhaps this cheese doesn't fit so neatly under the small batch, handmade, esoteric umbrella of cheeses that I more frequently flaunt. It's yet another guilty pleasure, most definitely of the mass-produced variety. But allow me this brief mention, especially considering its convenience and straight-up (though admittedly not deeply complex) tastiness.
We all know those familiar triangular foil-wrapped wedges, and that goofy earring-donning cow. Perhaps most interesting is that the cheese actually comes from France, from the Jura. It takes inspiration from that region's most famous cheese, Comte, and is France's very first branded cheese product. It was first registered in 1921.
Seriously, who knew? 1921? This cheese has serious historical roots in French culture. It goes under the name "Le Vache Qui Rit" in France and other European countries. Now, with such a large international production, there are plants in the US making the cheese, under the Fromageries Bel label, which also makes Boursin and BabyBel cheeses.
So while not terribly nuanced, and in fact this may be one instance when it comes to cheese where flavors might be welcome (they offer garlic and herb, french onion, blue cheese, and queso fresco and chipotle variations), its convenience can't be beat. When thrown into a lunch bag or kept in an office fridge, it doesn't get any easier to have a quick snack or a fast dose of protein.
I'm not sure how I feel about their recipes, ranging from Blue Cheese Dip to Cheesy Meatball Sandwiches to Artichoke and White Cheddar Tartlets. Well, I do know how I feel about them. They're not high on my list of ones to try, but simply spread on a bagel, or, as I did this weekend when met with an empty cheese drawer, crumbled into an omelet (it melted pretty perfectly), the cheese is quite passable.
I imagine, though, that Laughing Cow may be one of those polarizing cheeses: either you're of the persuasion that those little triangles offer a quick hit of pure creamy goodness, or that they should forever be left in their wrapper.
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City, where she continues to teach cheese classes for the public. She is currently a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show.
(Image: Wikipedia Commons)