Münster: Not Like the Cheese

When we tell people that we now live in Münster, the most likely response is: “Oh, like the cheese!” It’s a lot like my husband telling people that he studies math; it invariably results in a bewildered “Wow…” or a repulsed and terrified “Ugh, why?”

I can’t speak to the value of math. Current research suggests that there is none. However, I can say that this thing about cheese is a huge  misunderstanding. Germans love all things dairy, but Munster cheese actually comes from a region in France. It’s soft and apparently has a crust that “must be washed regularly.“* Muenster cheese, which is a transliteration of the German spelling, actually comes from the good ole American midwest. You may be familiar with it from such delights as sub sandwiches and massive, juicy cheeseburgers.** Why is the American version such a deliberate reference to the German word? Despite the fact that I research things and then write about them for a living, I can’t find the answer. Americans are big on stealing European names, immediately mispronouncing and misspelling them, and then keeping them that way forever and ever. Most cheese-centric American websites out there seem to misspell and interchange all of these cheese names anyway. This site, which I trust because of its authoritative mouse figure, states that “no one is completely certain” of the origins of Muenster/Munster cheese.

This restaurant in Hamburg, which we laughed at but did not go into, probably could clear up this Muenster cheese business. Or not.

This restaurant in Hamburg, which we laughed at but did not go into, probably could clear up this Muenster cheese question. Or not.

So, to sum up: there is no actual answer. But there is also definitely no Muenster cheese produced in Münster.***

After sharing this lengthy, lightly-researched and ultimately fruitless answer, the follow-up question is usually: “So, how do you like living in Munich?”

*I just threw up a little.

**I wrote that to be funny but then I read the Wikipedia page, which actually cites “grilled cheese sandwiches, tuna melts, quesadillas, cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, and pizza” as examples of typical Muenster cheese fare. I’ve never been so proud. Or felt so fat.

***The one thing I miss about living in Bielefeld? I had to paste fewer umlauts into my blog posts. Who has the time?

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5 responses to “Münster: Not Like the Cheese

  1. Matt should get the Victoria Cross and the Nobel Peace Prize for studying Math. I can’t get an A- in a microecon class at a community college. Apparently, my ability to practice international diplomacy hinges on my ability to factor a polynomial. Will sad.

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