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By Hanaba Munn Welch
Diseases and pests. If we fear them or just don’t like them, we name them for other countries.
Consider Spanish flu, German measles, the China virus and German cockroaches.
A roach story from some Germans: The family of five relocated to New Orleans. They lived in an aging almost-mansion close to St. Charles Ave. Some huge roaches inevitably ended up in the house. Mostly they darted along on surfaces, roach-like, but they also used their big wings to fly across rooms. The Germans were impressed. Roaches in general were a strange phenomenon. Not knowing what to call the big ones, they dubbed them “American flyers.”
But what about the Spanish flu? Per Wikipedia and other sources, the disease wasn’t worse in Spain, but reporters there could write about it. World War I was raging elsewhere; flu news got censored outside Spain in the interest of maintaining morale. War is bad enough; don’t add an epidemic. Belated apologies to Spain.
Enough of diseases and insects. Consider American cheese. From whence that name?
For one thing, it’s not cheese – at least not by my standards, and I have low standards. If it is American and we Americans are the ones who named it for ourselves, shame on us. Couldn’t we have found some enemy country to provide the adjective? Don’t ask me which one. Maybe Cuba? Nope. Too late now that we’re working on friendship. Besides, everybody knows Cuban food is good.
Maybe visiting European cheese snobs christened American cheese. But it hardly seems they would have besmirched the word “cheese” by using it to describe fake cheese unless they assumed no one would take them seriously about the “cheese” part. Yeah, maybe that’s how it happened.
Can you tell I’m unhappy because I forgot to tell McDonald’s (my favorite restaurant) to leave the “cheese” off my sausage McMuffin? Guess how hard it is to peel American cheese off a sausage McMuffin. I tried.
If you like the stuff, good for you. Quit reading now.
My husband, even as we speak, is trying to get the goo from a sticky mousetrap off his hands and jeans. Don’t ask. Turpentine seems to be working. Someone should come up with a similar solution for American cheese removal. Non-toxic, of course.
Yes, the best solution is to say, “no cheese,” but sometimes you end up with the stuff no matter what. Mistakes happen. Life is hard.
Another question: How do the purveyors of cheeseburgers made with American cheese get by with calling them cheeseburgers? Shouldn’t that be illegal?
By the way, I recently pandemic-curbside-ordered a whole little package of American cheese slices from the supermarket. My mistake!
If only I could use the stuff in mousetraps. I can see those cute little mice now, turning up their wiggly little noses and waiting for real cheese. Mice are picky. So am I.
Even so, the pandemic has taught me to be less picky and more appreciative of life’s basic blessings – one of which is not American cheese.