Chinese people don’t like cheese?

| July 16th, 2010

cheese_oh_cheese

Did someone say the Chinese didn’t like cheese? A recent article in the Global Times features Beijing native Liu Yang who hopes this isn’t true. While Liu isn’t the only cheese maker in Beijing, news agencies have been swarming his story, a tale that begins with an average computer science career and ends amid smelly cheese vats.

The French artisanal cheese maker’s journey began with a move to the French countryside, where he gained inspiration from his neighbor who made Crottin goat cheese. Liu began making the cheese himself and later returned to Beijing and opened up his own shop in the Huilongguan District called Le Fromager de Pekin, confident that he would have the resources and the market to make more varieties of cheese. Liu’s cheese now ships as far as Shanghai.

Dairy lovers and Liu’s customers include mostly Chinese children and China’s laowai as of now, and Liu said this isn’t because of the lactose—cheese lacks it—but the price.

"For Chinese people I think this is the beginning,” Liu said in the Global Times. “I think in several years there will be more Chinese customers eating cheese. Everything changes, just like Coca-Cola; I was 18 when I tried Coke for the first time. If one person says they like it or it’s strange, with time it will continue and change."

Liu isn’t the only one with cheese on his agenda. Some supermarkets, including Wal-mart, carry cheese products specifically marketed to children, so that parents can stock their fridges with cheese chunks on a stick and crudely cheese in a cup, all packaged in colorful wrapping adorned with cartoons. These types of cheesy fun debuted in America nearly a decade ago, but they’re the first to hit the wary Chinese cheese market. Despite companies’ efforts, China will most likely wait long into the future before every kid packs a lunch box with string cheese and balogna and cheese sandwiches.

Read more about Liu’s passion here.

28 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Neirda says:

    I heard many chinese simply have trouble digesting milk.

    Lots of my CH mates here can’t stand cheese, though I can admit some of them aren’t really welcoming 😀

    • Crystal says:

      This is exactly because of lactose, which as the article states is not present in cheese.

      • John says:

        There is lactose in some types of cheeses. The main reason why they hate it is because it’s freakin nasty.

    • john digmeme says:

      yes, this isn’t true. how about Yakult, those tiny little plastic bottles with liquid yogurt inside – show me an oriental person that doesnt like Yakult.

      • Dave says:

        going so off topic here, not sure about China, but in Yalkult in Taiwan is called 多多 (duo duo) and is often mixed with Green Tea for 多多綠 duo duo lu

  2. KahnKee says:

    Smell like dodo, taste like shit.

  3. Eric Havaby says:

    I look forward to trying their “Greasiness Gray Beijing cheese”

  4. Dave says:

    There are quite a few cheese shops about in department stores in Taiwan, although the selection isn’t great – no English Cheddar 🙂

    The feeling towards dairy products is weird though – if you buy milk for instance you might be asked: “Do you want milk, or fresh milk?”

    The dislike of cheese can’t be anything to do with the smell or taste though, as in Taiwan they love to eat stinky tofo, which is smellier than the smelliest of cheeses!

  5. Devin says:

    I can’t find a shop that sells cheese. I have favor on it , for Its color , shape..God ,my saliva is on the way~! I still haven’t got my dinner now~!

  6. Devin says:

    Stinky tofo , smell like shit , tasted make you wanna try again~! Im not kidding , everyone comes to china doesn’t even try stinky tofo once , that’s a tragedy ~!

  7. Dave says:

    I think there’s a period of time when you arrive in Taiwan or China that you have to try stinky tofo – but if you make it past this stage you’ll never try it…. I’ve made it 3.5 years without trying, never think I will now. But a friend who came out here ate it on the first day 🙂

  8. shenmeniao says:

    kinda shocked no one has pointed out the GIANT difference between western cheese and chinese cheese. never been to a sandwich place in china and found that you have a sugary, slimey piece of cheese on the sandwich?

    the difference of western vs chinese cheese parallels the difference between western bread and chinese sweetened bread. just a matter of taste! imagine a pizza made of chinese bread and cheese. bizarf.

    • That said, it seems like this guy has at least some grounding in the making of proper French cheeses… it’s probably not like the Chinese manufactured cheeses (more properly comparable to KRAFT’s disgusting products than to real cheese) that come in flavors such as chocolate or vanilla.

  9. GuoBao says:

    Most of the Chinese made cheese is plain disgusting. When I had been here for a couple of months my cheeseoholic tendencies got the better of me and in a moment of insanity I bought some Chinese cheese slices and some cheese-on-a-stick. First of all the stick thingy was outright disgusting. It had very little to do with cheese at all and I had to throw them away. The slices were acceptable when hidden deep within a home made sandwich to disguise the taste. A few weeks later luckily I discovered Metro and now every 2-3 months of so I buy a 3 kilo mozzarella, cheddar or emmenthaler, shop it into pieces and store them in the freezer for later use. I’ve even managed to turn my girlfriend who referred to cheese as “disgusting rotten milk” in the beginning of our relationship. Cheeeeese,,,,,,

  10. georgeson says:

    It’s a huge waste to put cheese on delicious seafoods which happens everyday in the US. Of course, this is from most Chinese people’s viewpoints.

  11. Michael says:

    Yeah the cheese I had in China was really strange. Not really cheese by western standards

  12. Gary says:

    The best cheese in china is in a little city up in the southern mountains called Dali. The cheese is sold in thin, curled sheets about 12 inches by 4 inches and 1/4 thick. It’s hard and brittle at room temperature. Use it for cooking (goes great with eggs) or grate it to put on noodles. Tastes like a mild parmesan. Vendors on the street with little ovens will offer to sell you a heated and semi melted strip on a stick but it can also be bought in little grocery stores by weight for a reasonable price. If you go, I’ll pay you back for it and shipping to send me some!

    • A goat’s cheese product of the Naxi minority, no? I think you can get it in Lijiang (and nearby areas) as well. There’s also cheese to be had in Tibet (yak cheese), but it’s just about unpalatable it’s so sour.

      • Devin says:

        I’ve tried that.. I don’t really enjoy foods on plain area.. Cheese in Tibet , I remember it’s kind of acid , uh ?

      • Gary says:

        Dali is mainly populated with Bai and a few Yi, not Naxi. I didn’t see any dairy cattle herds so I assume it was from some smaller animal like goat.

      • john digmeme says:

        i went on a mission to find cheese in Lijiang when i was there in ’07 and couldn’t find it anywhere. I really went a lot of places looking for it – couldn’t find. More specific address to get cheese in Yunan would be much appreciated.

    • John Dylan says:

      Hi Gary – wonder if you are still checking in three years later! My son’s in China, in Dali, and yearning for cheese. Please … where do you buy this cheese? He can’t find any! Have you got an address?

  13. john digmeme says:

    Dairy in China = Melamine scare. nuff said

  14. fireworks says:

    Once they go to Macdonalds and order Cheeseburgers or eaten Lasagne… They’ll get hooked.

  15. Rudiooo says:

    i love cheese.. my family sends me cheese from Holland once in a while…

    something else, when will Chinese finally start to learn how to cook a real steak!??

  16. Daniel S. says:

    I’m Swiss and like a réel “cliché”, I Love Cheese!

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