Real cheese is white.Mystification surrounds the identification of the person who came up with the idea cheese would be prettier yellow, but it wasn’t someone who lived on a farm. In it’s natural state, cheese is white – or bleu, as in bleu cheese, which is laced with mold.

Arguably the finest kind of sandwich is a couple slices of bread slathered in mayonnaise – I also like mayo (not that make-believe stuff) – and layered around three slices of American cheese.

Three slices is what it takes. You lay one down at one end of the bread slice, and another at the other end. The two slices of cheese overlap, but not evenly, which is where the third cheese slice comes in. You tear it in half and place the portions at either end of the already places full slices. Properly done, the cheese now is two layers thick all the way across.

Slather the remaining slice of bread in mayo, place it on the sammich, and enjoy.

There is nothing I’ve so far found that cannot be made better with cheese. Well, almost. My first father-in-law loved limburger cheese. His daughter would, in preparation for a visit, insist we make a trip to a monastery in Quebec to purchase some. search for a source of the stuff. Stinky stuff.

I was raised around farms and I was familiar with the aroma of manure piles – but I could not get Limburger cheese past my nose.

Another source of Limburger, is a bit of a long and expensive trip, unless one is on a first name basis with Mighty Mouse. The moon, he said when I was much younger than I am, is made of Limburger cheese.

I favor sharp cheddar, the sharper the better, preferable from New York. Generally speaking, sharpness is a function of aging, so the older the better, and goes well with a glass of Shiraz wine. It is best served at room temperature – and once was displayed for sale in large “wheels” of 20 or 40 pounds left sitting on the counter next to the cash register, from which the proprietor would slice as much as a customer wanted. The waxen jacket in which it was clad may have been red, but the cheese within was white.

Marketing has been responsible for many food characteristics we now take for granted. One could easily surmise the reason most commercial “cheese” is yellow is to make us think we are eating real Wisconsin cheese. It may be, but all that is yellow is not cheese. Or from Wisconsin.

Milk is white, though it can be tinted by certain foods, which is said to be why Wisconsin cheddar is golden orange.  When the cows were out to pasture, they ate grass that was high in carotene, giving the milk, and therefore the cheese, a characteristic pale orange color. As farms got bigger and more commercial and cows were moved indoors and onto dry feed, cheese makers added Annatto seeds to give the product color and differentiate it from the white variety produced naturally in New York and Vermont.

Thus American cheese is usually sold yellow, as is “cheese food,” which isn’t cheese at all, though some of it tastes OK. And Philly Cheesesteak is made with Cheez Whiz, which is yellow, but that’s OK, too, because it is not really cheese. Mac and cheese is properly made with Velveeta sauce and American cheese baked topping – neither of which is actual cheese.

But for a real treat, trade the American cheese for a layer of New York Cheddar. The white kind, the way cows meant it to be.