The slow agony of the tranchete
If the scene were translatable to the screen, a boy with a yellow striped shirt would appear running down a beach in Malaga shouting "Tranchete is dead!". Well, he is dying. That is said, at least, the sales indicators in the US. The tranchete has stalled its sales in favor of less processed products, and companies are now striving to obtain a healthier sliced cheese.
If you are a millennial Big reserve, like me, is likely to have grown with a fridge full of Bimbo bread, ham and tranchetes. Basically, our parents put at our disposal products with which we did not need to handle any knife and with which it was not easy for us to burn the kitchen. And a mixed sandwich did not jeopardize the integrity of our homes. Tranchetes grew in sales in the seventies, eighties and nineties precisely for that reason, for its usefulness and easy handling (open the plastic, subtract and add). Those slices of radioactive yellow were the queens of the student floors and the referents of every culinary bum. “I remember that I was a tranchete in my childhood and adolescence, and that when I returned home from the party I opened the fridge and there I was always to do something fast before bedtime,” recalls Luc Talbordet, owner of the Fromagerie Can Luc in Barcelona Gracia neighborhood.
The tranchete is known in the US as "American cheese", an expression that contains a great paradox because technically it is neither cheese nor American. The creator of the popular Kraft Singles and the first man to patent the processed cheese, James L. Kraft, was born in Canada and invented this food in 1916 with the aim of selling it to the United States Army during the First World War for the first time experiencing with canning. He continued researching for decades with his brother, and after his death in 1965, the popular Kraft Singles, the sheets of processed cheese wrapped in plastic individually were born. They were comfortable, cheap, easy to slice, permeable to cold and heat, and so durable that they could apparently survive a zombie apocalypse. And so they crowned the macaroni of virtually all American homes from the middle of the century.
The tranchete, therefore, is not American. And technically it is not cheese either because following the FDA's opinions when a product contains more than 51% of additional ingredients, that product cannot be considered as such. The tranchetes are normally “processed products based on fats, whey proteins, solids, aromas, dyes, additives and high levels of sodium,” describes Paqui Cruz, cheese master of Dehesa de los Llanos, chosen best cheese in the world in 2012. “Erroneously there are many varieties of trailers on the market in which there is nowhere to read the word cheese, but they resemble the formats and forms of presentation and generate confusion. Cheese can be considered as long as it complies with the characteristics that the legislation sets in order to do so, the problem comes when we are continually naming cheese those products that do not comply with such regulations, ”he describes.
When could a tranchete be described as "cheese"? Paqui explains: “Cheese is that product that is obtained from mixing, melting and emulsion of one or more varieties of cheese, with or without the addition of milk or milk products, containing a minimum total dry extract of 35% mass /mass. It can also be called cheese that tranchete that contains at least 75% of a variety of cheese, being able to call directly by means of the name of said cheese ”.
We will always need a good brick by hand for macaroni or mixed sandwich, but the demand for higher quality cheeses will continue to grow steadily, says Talbordet. In their cheese factory they offer many alternatives. “There are many cheeses that melt as well or better than a tranchete, and that can also be cut into thin slices. For example, an Emmental, a Comte, or a Gruyer. Those would be the classics, but there are many more options, with the imagination to power. For example, we offer smoked cheddar, or Galician tetilla cheeses that are also very pleasant for a mixed sandwich, ”he describes. In general, the best cheeses to melt "are usually pressed cheese, rather than cured goat or sheep cheeses." Adrián Martín, cheese master of the Poncelet Cheese Bar, in Madrid, adds to the list “the Italian Fontina, the Dutch Gouda or Masddam or the Altejó de Molí de Ger. During their preparation, they all receive a curd firing that causes a very elastic final texture that, as soon as it receives a small heat stroke, melts or melts perfectly ”.
For Luc, after adolescence, the tranchete represents “a bad nostalgia, a hidden vice that has been fortunately replaced. I refuse to think that if you've tried a real cheese, you still prefer a tranchete. The tranchete tastes like plastic, it is a texture similar to green jelly slime of the Ghostbusters with whom we played as children ”. Nor is it the healthiest option, explains nutritionist Laura Saavedra, “it is an ultra-processed product, that is, it is manufactured by adding fillers that decrease its nutritional quality and price, but increase its organoleptic characteristics (creaminess, flavor , etc). Therefore, it would be a product to avoid because of its high content of additives and salts ”. They are, in short, an “easy product, which combines with everything you add to the sandwich, but that barely fulfills what it promises,” says Adrián Martín.
The tranchetes, therefore, are still consumed ... but the truth is that one can intuit Pancho at the end of the beach with the above phrase on the tip of his tongue.