Passion for Philadelphia

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I am in Italy and came across this sight at our hotel’s breakfast buffet. Near the expensive dried meats, and mixed in between the quality ricotta cheese and gourmet goat cheese was something labeled “Philadelphia Cheese.”

At first I was confused, as I believe myself to be pretty knowledgable about most types of cheese, and I had never seen this suff being sold in our local gourmet cheese shop, and no cheese monger I know has ever mentioned the stuff.

After looking more closely at the stuff, I quickly realized it was nothing more than your typical cream cheese.

After breakfast I searched around at a few of the local grocery stores and discovered the passion for “Philadelphia” the people of this area of Tuscany have. This common cream cheese took up more grocery store shelf space than the ricottas, mascarpone, and other local soft cheeses. I had to ask our local guide why, in the land of such famous cheeses like Pecorino Romano, Parmesan Reggiano, and other government protected cheeses, does commercially produced Kraft cream cheese hold such a high position?!? Well, it seems that in addition to the textural and creamy taste we love in the USA to top our bagels with, “Philadelphia” cream cheese has also found a place in many Italian hearts due to its highly processed and preservative-filled nature, which allows the stuff to almost NEVER go bad… while the local fresh ricottas only last a few days. Unfortunately, it seems convenience once again conquers quality.

It became clear, that “Philadelphia” was the blanket term used to refer to American-style cream cheese here. This is similar to the way Klenex is used to describe all generic tissue paper, or how ‘Coke’ often can mean any type of soda back home in the South East of the USA. To the unfamiliar, this is terribly confusing… But a recent taste test I came across did support that Kraft’s “Philadelphia” line of cream cheese was far superior to the competition. So if you are going to eat industrial produced cheese, you mine as well go for one of the best. And I guess this is why I personally can’t think of a single other brand name of cream cheese off the top of my head.

So today for breakfast in Tuscany, I passed on the “Philadelphia” in favor of more regional delicacies. But I always enjoy seeing how cultures are being mixed together and resulting in situations where one nations commodity, is another’s passion.

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Categories: Rants, Unexpected Randomness

Author:Mr. Fed Up

A guy looking for good grub. and YES....I have a website...and I am not going to bore you with one of those personal journal type of blogs. I promise. Check it out; www.FedUpFood.com

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8 Comments on “Passion for Philadelphia”

  1. elangomatt
    June 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    That is so funny that they actually use Philadelphia cream cheese so much there. I figured from the picture that it was just normal cream cheese since they it looks like the just cut the bricks in half before arranging it on the platter. I am glad to hear though that you partook in the local cheeses though since those must be far superior. I thought for sure that the hotel got sick of guests asking for “cream cheese” for their bagel and they complained too much if it wasn’t real Philadelphia stype cream cheese. I figured the hotel had to find a special source for the Kraft stuff.

    As for the taste test, I don’t really buy it. In a blind taste test I doubt I could pick out Philadelphia brand cream cheese from Kroger brand cream cheese. I might even go as far as saying that I think they both might be made from Kraft (which is entirely possible). The only difference I see is the packaging with the Kroger brand being packed vertically and the Kraft brand packed horizontally. I doubt there is even a millimeter in difference in the cream cheese brick dimensions though. I usually go for the Kroger brand since it is ~25% cheaper most of the time.

    • July 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Today I went to another larger grocery store in Italy. I saw even MORE varieties of flavored Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese.

      I do think that many generic and brand name products do tast similar. but certain things (Cornflakes) I accept no substitutes… Only the original.

  2. July 3, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Fantastic! It really is quite something the way other cultures take to things North American in nature. I would have been confused as well if I saw Philadelphia cheese on a menu in Tuscany. But, regardless of convenience trumping quality, you have to admit, Philly Cream Cheese is tasty.

    • July 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

      Yes, Philly cheese is mighty tasty! Just before I left for this trip, I started adding cream cheese to pizzas that I made at home…WOW… It is good. Then, just last night at a pizzeria here in Tuscany we saw a ‘Philadelphia’ pizza. My friend ordered it; it had cream cheese, motz, ham, and rocket. He liked it, but thought the rocket leafs were not necessary. I think cream cheese should make more of an appearance on pizzas.

      • July 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

        Oooh, agreed! Thanks for the tip. I’m going to add Philly to my Friday night pizza making!

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