The European Cheese Custom We Should All Be Adopting

Is there ever really a bad time to eat cheese? Americans swirl sharp cheddar through their scrambled eggs in the morning, they melt slabs of gruyere in sourdough to eat alongside tomato soup for lunch, and they positively drown their pizzas with melted mozzarella. Cheese boards have become meals themselves at parties. Statista says that the average American ate 40.2 pounds of cheese in 2020, but they are pounds away from being the biggest cheese eaters in the world. World Population Review notes that France holds the top spot, with the average citizen consuming 57.9 pounds of fromage per year. In fact, the top 10 cheese-eating countries are all in Europe.

From creamy French Camembert to sharp Italian Taleggio to tangy Greek Feta, the Europeans know how to transform their milk, as they should since they have been perfecting the craft for centuries, according to Cosmos Magazine. Yet, most European populations are relatively small compared to the masses in places like China, India, and the U.S., so how do they annihilate us in the cheese game? Turns out, they eat a lot of it — at any and all times of the day.

Start your day with cheese

Americans tend to enjoy cheese courses or boards as an appetizer at home and in restaurants. Not so much in Europe. In France, for instance, a cheese plate is, indeed, practically part of the culture, but it comes after the main course of the meal and before dessert, per Tasting French. Another popular practice is to nosh on cheese if you are enjoying an aperitif. While Americans may indulge in a cheese board at parties or special occasions, almost half of the entire French population eat cheese every single day, according to Talk In French

Outside of France, many Europeans include cheese as part of their continental breakfast. Super-traveler Rick Steves notes that breakfast in the following countries include cheese: the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, breakfasts are often a very simple spread including bread, butter, jam, and coffee, but sometimes include cheeses as well. The Spruce Eats also claims that cheese is eaten for breakfast in Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland, where it is often part of open-faced sandwiches eaten in the morning. 

With plenty of calories and fat, cheese certainly gives you the substance you need to get your busy day started. And Europeans don't stop there; Cheese is enjoyed at lunch, as part of mid-day picnics, and as part of dinner. Not that it wasn't already known, but this reiterates the belief that there is never a bad time to eat cheese.