12th November 1952. Say Cheese!
Could the association of cheese with dreaming be due to the Casomorphins (opioids) in milk, inducing deep sleep? (1)
Certainly cheese can affect people: Ben Gunn isolated on Treasure Island develops an obsession for cheese, and Ebenezer Scrooge, in Christmas Carol, doubting his senses, attributes this, amongst other things to, ‘a crumb of cheese’, though which variety is unknown!
Today in 1952 the Minister of Food, Major Gwyllam Lloyd-George announced in the Commons that the cheese ration was to be increased from 1oz to 1½ ozs per person from next January.(2)
One of the most celebrated cheeses down the centuries came from Gloucestershire, notably Double and Single Gloucester. It originated in the Severn Valley in the late 15thc and had a permanent market in Eastgate Street, Gloucester.
By Tudor times it derived from the old Gloucester dairy breed found in the Vale of Berkeley which had small fat globules making for a fine even cheese. Noted for its hardness and rind it was ideal as a circular cheese for the famous cheese-rolling custom down Coopers Hill.
The light-coloured Single Gloucester, drew its colour from the summer grass, high in Carotene and Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium Verum). Known as Haymakers’ Cheese it was eaten soon after its quick maturity.
The more mature and yellow, Double Gloucester had always relied on the artificial orangey hue from Annatto since the 16thc, but don’t panic as this natural agent is safe and accepted today in many products.(3)
Also Annatto from a South American plant, is not one of the ‘Big 8’ Allergens, which are: wheat, cows’ milk, eggs, peanuts, fish, shellfish, tree nuts and soy. It is found in spices and dyestuffs and is the colouring of smoked fish, butter, confectionery and imparts the orangey colour to most cheeses.
(1) Casomorphins are peptides, protein fragments derived from milk proteins.
(2) First rationed 5th May 1941 when it was confirmed that vegetarians would get extra rations; 1oz per person for everybody else. 25th January 1953 saw the increase.
(3) This originally natural additive is highly prized and used in other cheeses as Red Leicester, Cheshire and coloured Cheddar from Scotland.
Ref: HC Debate 12th November 1952. vol. 507 cc 43-4.
Ref: HC Debate 9.4.1951. vol. 486 cc 760-81.
Ref: theyworkforyou.com/debate. Cheese Ration 9.4.1941 HC Debate.
Ref: Literary refs: Daily Telegraph. 24.10.2015.