Goat cheese: How I hate thee...
March 9, 2010 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Why do I hate goat cheese so much?

I eat most everything. But one thing -- goat cheese -- positively repels me, and not just psychologically. If I consume even the tiniest spec, I can spot it a mile away, and I can't get over it (unlike other foods I might not like, which I can easily swallow and forget). Also, I'm not allergic to it; I don't get sick from it or anything. And I can eat other strong cheeses without much drama.

I'd love to get cured because I recognize that many people love it, and that it's a big part of the modern kitchen.

So does anyone else share this fierce goat cheese hatred? And have any of you overcome it?
posted by teedee2000 to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What kind of goat cheese? Is it a specific kind of cheese that's been made, or if the milk comes from goats do you find it abhorrent?
posted by ZaneJ. at 9:31 PM on March 9, 2010

I'm a huge fan of goat cheese and a lover of cheese in general (see profile) and I think that for some people goat cheese can have a certain flavor that is just disagreeable. I have a friend who can't abide by goat cheese, even the aged goat cheeses which I don't think have that "goaty" flavor at all, she can pick them out as being goat. It reminds me that some people have a real special aversion to cilantro -- to them it tastes like soap. You may just have tastebuds that can't abide it.

I would try some aged goat cheese and see what you think of it. Also, your tastebuds may change over time (how old are you?) and you may start liking it at some point. But, goat cheese, especially the creamy chevre that is most commonly cooked with, does have a distinctive flavor -- it's kind of barny and, well, goaty and that may simply be a flavor that is hard to get over. I happen to love it but it's a really unique flavor and I don't know what to say except to try different forms of goat cheese -- very fresh chevre is creamier than stuff you get in the store. Aged goat cheese can be very light in flavor. Check out aged sheep's cheese like manchego and see what you think of that.
posted by amanda at 9:34 PM on March 9, 2010

What do you think is turning you off? The tang? The smell (which doesn't necessarily correlate with the taste.) The texture? And if the texture, which aspect? The crumbly-yet-smooth aspect of very young cheeses, or the chalky outside/gooey inside thing with slightly more aged cheeses?

I find that when examining strong dislikes, it's often an expectation/reality schism that keeps me on the side of intolerant.

But there are tons of styles of cheese made from goat's milk, and while I, an adoring fan, can discern the tell-tale goat's milk flavor, I gotta say that I bet I could stump you.
posted by desuetude at 9:37 PM on March 9, 2010

I wonder if it's a supertaster thing...I have a pal who can't eat hazelnuts...they taste like mold to her. How do you feel about cilantro? (Which apparently isn't a supertaster thing after all. Huh. Learn something every day, I suppose.)

/Waiting for former cheese monkey rtha to pop in here...
posted by mollymayhem at 9:38 PM on March 9, 2010

Do you usually eat it in one particular way? It might be an aversion to a particular combination, if you always have it on pizza for instance. Or bread. Or strawberries.

And I can eat other strong cheeses without much drama.

Just checking - you're talking about strong bleu cheeses or other cheeses unpopular among a lot of people and not just something like a sharp cheddar that's strong but not offensive to the taste buds?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:41 PM on March 9, 2010

Response by poster: I've never tried goat's milk, and I'm not able to recognize the variations in various sub-cheeses.

I'm 38 and I think I've been this way for as long as I can remember. (Before my twenties, I didn't eat anything more exotic than cheddar.)

Thank you for those great adjectives -- they capture my reaction exactly! It may be that it comes from a goat that freaks me out. I will definitely try to find manchego.
posted by teedee2000 at 9:42 PM on March 9, 2010

Response by poster: I think the turn-off is the tang, the muttony flavor. I don't mind the texture, though I have only really encountered it in small amounts, like in a salad or in an omelette.

I like cilantro quite a bit; I love Vietnamese and Thai food, for example. No real supertaster aspects to my tongue; not sure what the concept is though.

Actually, come to think of it, I have a similar reaction to gorgonzola.

I guess what weirds me out is that the aversion is so unlike any others I have to food -- it's a teensy bit in the same realm as getting a whiff of ammonia (maybe that's too strong a comparison, but it describes the punch of it).

Maybe it's genetic? My father has a similar reaction (though my mother adores it).

Thank you for all these great responses.
posted by teedee2000 at 9:49 PM on March 9, 2010

Some goat cheeses are...goatier than others. I find that some aged sheep cheeses are quite...sheepy, and I'm not a fan.

Try a very fresh goat cheese - fresh, and if you can get it, local - which tends to be milder (though sometimes tangier). You can go to any decent cheese shop and ask for tastes of things to see what you like without committing to buying.

Keep an eye out for a Spanish cheese called Drunken Goat - it's a semi-soft goat's milk cheese that's been marinated in wine. Pretty tasty.
posted by rtha at 9:49 PM on March 9, 2010

A whiff of ammonia is a good description for a tangy goats milk feta, although that's why I like it of course. Try sheep milk or cow milk feta in comparison. That will tell you if it's the type of cheese or the type of ruminant. The animal definitely adds a certain gamy flavour and if you don't like it then not much you can do since it's pretty pervasive. Personally I can definitely tell which is the cows milk version vs the other two and prefer the goat or sheep (so you should be the opposite), but it may just be that you don't like whichever style of cheese you're getting that's normally made with goats milk. In which case there are many many other cheese you can enjoy instead.
posted by shelleycat at 10:00 PM on March 9, 2010

Young, fresh chevres are nearly as mild as cream cheese, not gamey at all. The harder aged cheeses don't have the same sort of distinctive flavor, it's mellower and more caramelized.

The beautiful little shaped goat's milk cheeses dusted with ash? Stay away from those for now, they're gonna be everything that you know and hate.

You might try it in a recipe find that the change in context helps you get past your aversion. Erm, have a friend include a mild goat cheese in a recipe and feed it to you. Because I am cocky enough to bet that it's maybe a bit of a kind of a sort of confirmation bias, and that in a blind taste test of goat cheese as an ingredient, you might not associate the flavor with goats at all.

/formerly picky eater, previously hated all food for reasons that apparently boiled down to stubbornness. Now I preach with the zeal of the converted.
posted by desuetude at 10:00 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am personally am a huge fan of anything goaty- I can't get enough of what I like to call "that wang" of goat flavor, though I've been told that that doesn't mean what I think it does. As for easing your way into goat, I highly recommend Cypress Grove's Midnight Moon. It's aged quite a bit, not a lot of tang, and a pretty solid texture. The taste is somewhere between a parmesan and a cheddar to my tongue, with just a tiny hint of goat. I've converted others to goat with this cheese before and would probably label it as one of my top five favorite cheeses. Also, I second the Drunken Goat- lovely stuff.
posted by Polyhymnia at 10:06 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also not a huge fan of goat cheese. Why not just go with your preference? Everyone's palette is different, and if you don't like it, you just don't like it.
posted by Gilbert at 10:09 PM on March 9, 2010

Nthing Gilbert, I'm VERY picky about cheese (though young goat is one I like) to the point that the smell of the cheese section in markets is vile to me.
posted by brujita at 10:19 PM on March 9, 2010

Also, at 38, it's time to accept that you take after your father.
posted by ouke at 12:03 AM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

"An aversion to the odor of decay has the obvious biological value of steering us away from possible food poisoning, so it is no wonder that an animal food that gives off whiffs of shoes and soil and the stable takes some getting used to."

--p58, Harold McGee. On food and cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen

The author says that these kinds of foods are acquired tastes. I think of it as learning to inhibit your distaste, as a trade-off for the nutritional value or sensual (flavors/smells/textures) complexity provided by the food.

I love goat cheese. On the other hand I've been proffered kinds of cow's milk cheese that are just overpoweringly... stinky.
posted by polymodus at 1:10 AM on March 10, 2010

Agreeing with those who said that fresh goat cheese can be quite mild. My aunt makes an amazing chèvre that's a bit like cream cheese; very fresh tasting. Part of that is probably a function of the cheese-making process, but part is determined by the goats themselves, and their diet. Apparently her farm's milk is considered less "goaty" tasting than many. I can still tell it apart from cow's milk, but my grandmother claims she cannot.

So sample fresh chèvre from a variety of local farms, I guess?
posted by serathen at 2:37 AM on March 10, 2010

Seriously, try some goat's milk sometime. Should be pretty easy to find at your average supermarket, near the eggnog and whatnot. I don't particularly like chevre either, but to me goat's milk is completely different - and delicious. It's somehow both lighter and creamier than cow's milk, with a mild underlying sweetness.

Also seconding the recommendation for Drunken Goat - it doesn't have that odd sharp tang that chevre has, nor is it all hardcore like Gorgonzola. Try it on a cracker with a little bit of butter, or maybe a nice olive tapenade.
posted by Cimrmanova at 3:40 AM on March 10, 2010

I think such strong reactions are just normal, even in people who can, in ways of food or smells, take a lot otherwise.

I suppose (scholars, correct me) that this is an individual extended version of the basic human response to certain truly inedible things. Think moldy nuts, contaminated food or stuff that has gone sour. Before you can think yuck, you're in the process of spitting it out. So I guess that something tells you that the goaty smell/taste belongs to the same category, no matter whether this is real or imagination.

We all are stuck with a bunch of sensations we really hate. I don't mind goaty smells too much, but I had to get used to them, and I can easily imagine them belonging to the no-way category. For some people it's cilantro (took me a while, too); I have a very strong aversion to a certain kind of Geranium smell - although I don't even have to eat them, I scarcely can be in a room together with these plants. No allergies here either. And, ugh, baked (stuffed) cucumber halves (don't ask. They do this kind of thing...). Even hot cucumber bits in a stir-fry are on the edge.

I wouldn't try getting used to goat cheese. Just stay away from the stuff.
posted by Namlit at 4:03 AM on March 10, 2010

If it helps, I'm the same way. My brother grew up allergic to cow's milk and could only drink goat's milk and eat goat cheese, and I'd occasionally taste it and have never ever been able to stand it. Something about the taste just makes me recoil. All these "blind taste test" suggestions? I've passed them. You can put a tiny bit of goat cheese in something and I'll know immediately. Cook something with goat milk instead of cow milk and I'll know. Nothing I've been able to do has been able to make me get over it, and I similarly regret my cheese weakness, but that's the way it is.
posted by olinerd at 4:16 AM on March 10, 2010

I'm going to say you suffer from some level of being a supertaster, at least for some specific chemical receptors. Being a supertaster is not a good thing.

The gist is that all of the food we eat is a very complex assortment of chemicals, each adding its own flavour. For most people, the flavours that are perceived are similar and strong flavours overwhelm subtle ones. For some people, flavours that are only subtly perceived, or not perceived at all by most people, are much too strong. So, goat cheese that taste mild and tangy to many, tastes "muttony" to you. They literally just can't taste the mutton flavour. They are not tasting the same thing as you.

I can't take walnuts because, to me, they taste overwhelmingly of dirt (and not in an earthy good way). Strong cheese and olives present problems. I realised early that I actually taste flavours that other people can't pick up at all. So, for me, some food is the equivalent of eating chocolate cake with ammonia in it. Everyone else just tastes chocolate cake and can't believe I don't like chocolate cake (who doesn't like chocolate cake?). While I taste nothing but ammonia and can't fathom why anyone would think it tastes so yummy. Thankfully, chocolate cake is quite delicious to me, but you get the drift.
posted by qwip at 4:19 AM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mr. WanKenobi, not a supertaster, likes everything in the world except gfilte fish. So he just doesn't eat gfilte fish.

I like goat cheese, but I agree that it has a very distinctive, goaty flavor--in fact, I can detect this flavor in all forms (milk, goat's milk ice cream, all kinds of cheese--and really, I've tried all kinds). I think it's absolutely fine to have one or two foods you don't like; you've given them a fair shake. Why torture yourself?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:48 AM on March 10, 2010

I wouldn't worry so much about it! I love goat cheese - but I despise blue cheese and brie. I don't care how many people love those cheeses - they're not for me.

It's OK not to like goat cheese. :-)
posted by MorningPerson at 6:10 AM on March 10, 2010

I know I'm enjoying a really good goat cheese when it tastes like ...a petting zoo.

Nthing that it's perfectly 100% okay not to like goat cheese.
posted by applemeat at 6:53 AM on March 10, 2010

I raised milk goats for many years. I love the taste of fresh goat milk and fresh goat cheese. But once it starts to get that tang, I go right off it. For me, that tang immediately conjures up the image of a big stinky buck pissing on himself. I've always suspected that lovers of aged goat cheese have never been privy to that particular visual/olfactory spectacle.

I don't think I will ever overcome this aversion, and I'm not even going to try. There are lots of other things to eat. Good things.
posted by bricoleur at 6:56 AM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Certainly, you can just not like a particular food. Despite all efforts to the contrary, I've got a few that I just can't get over, either. teedee2000, are there other foods for which you once had an aversion but you now love?

For me, it's helpful to giggle at the memory of, say, how I once recoiled at the tiniest speck of mushroom violating my lasagna with it's spongy dank awfulness (flick flick flick goes the fork with deadly accuracy!) and compare that to the newer, hungry-making memory of sauteed mushrooms cascading over a steak. I started out liking once-reviled foods in very specific preparations only, before moving on to embracing those foods more generally.
posted by desuetude at 7:23 AM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go with the "you just don't like it" response, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I have a few foods I cannot abide, no matter how much I try. Sometimes it's something about the flavor, and often texture is the culprit. About once a year, I try (most) of my small list of repulsive foods to see if my palate has changed. Some things have moved off the "do not want" list, but others (like squash-ugh) I have a feeling will never be welcome on my plate. If you run into people who keep trying to convince you, just tell them you're allergic and that should end the discussion right there.
posted by katemcd at 7:54 AM on March 10, 2010

Chiming in to say that it's ok, I don't like goat cheese (or many other non-cheddar cheeses) either.

For me when I've tried to like something new, I've tried to seek out the most delicious version of that food and incorporate it into my palate. For instance - tomatoes. I used to HATE raw tomatoes, the acid tang just drove me nuts. But one summer when I was really into gardening I had tons of super fresh, super sweet tomatoes that were absolutely delicious. For whatever reason I got over the mental block of "this food is gross" and now I can even handle off-season questionably pale tomatoes if necessary. (Although August tomatoes are still the best :)

So if you can sample some really fresh and mild goat cheese, maybe it will help your mind and your palate get over the "gross" hurdle and you'll be able to sample more tangy goat cheese in the future without cringing.
posted by sararah at 9:08 AM on March 10, 2010

My father will eat anything. Tripe, organs, aluminum cans... anything. Except goat cheese. Hates the stuff with the kind of revulsion that you describe. Goes out of his way to cook just to make sure that no goat cheese has infiltrated.

He's also not bothered by stinky cheese and rather loves limburger. I think this might just be a goat cheese thing.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:59 AM on March 10, 2010

If you run into people who keep trying to convince you, just tell them you're allergic and that should end the discussion right there.

Why invent a nonsensical fake allergy (goats milk is often tolerated just fine by people allergic to cow's milk) when you can just say "no, thank you?" Anyway, the OP is asking how to maybe learn to like goat cheese, not how to avoid it.
posted by desuetude at 11:31 AM on March 10, 2010

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