I may here mention that I have recently made some experiments on the dissolving of cheese by adding sufficient alkali (carbonate of potash) to neutralize the acid it contains, thus converting the casein into its original soluble form as it existed in the milk, and have partially succeeded both with water and milk as solvents; but before reporting these results in detail I will describe some of the practically established methods of cooking cheese that are so curiously unknown or little known in this country.
In the fatherland of my grandfather, Louis Gabriel Mattieu, one of the commonest dishes of the peasant who tills his own freehold and grows his own food is a "fondevin" (I can not explain the etymology of the word, and spell it only by ear, never having seen it in print or writing). This is a mixture of cheese and eggs, the cheese grated and beaten into the egg as in making omelets, with a small addition of new milk or butter. It is placed in a little pan like a flower-pot saucer, cooked gently, served as it comes off the fire, and eaten from the vessel in which it is cooked. I have made many a hearty dinner on one of these, plus a lump of black bread and a small bottle of genuine but thin wine; the cost of the whole banquet at a little auberge being usually less than sixpence. The cheese is in a pasty condition, and partly dissolved in the milk or butter. I have tested the sustaining power of such a meal by doing some very stiff mountain-climbing and long fasting after it. It is rather too good—over-nutritious—for a man only doing sedentary work.
A diluted and delicate modification of this may be made by taking slices of bread, or bread and butter, soaking them in a batter made of eggs or milk—without flour—then placing the slices of soaked bread in a pie-dish, covering each with a thick coating of grated cheese, and thus building up a stratified deposit to fill the dish. The surplus batter may be poured over the top; or, if time is allowed for saturation, the trouble of preliminary soaking may be saved by simply pouring all the batter thus. This, when gently baked, supplies a delicious and highly nutritious dish. We call it cheese-pudding at home, but my own experience convinces me that we make a mistake in using it to supplement the joint. It is far too nutritious for this; its savory character tempts one to eat it so freely that it would be far wiser to use it as the Swiss peasant uses his fondevin, i. e., as the one and only dish of a good wholesome dinner.
I have tested its digestibility by eating it heartily for supper. No nightmare has followed. If I sup on a corresponding quantity of raw cheese, my sleep is miserably eventful.—Knowledge.