Someone wise once said, “it ain’t easy bein’ cheesy.” Cheese is one of the most revered foods of all time, and one of the Original Gangsters of human culinary tradition. Cheese is actually older than history! That’s right, humans were making cheese before our we even started keeping a record of our history. It’s no surprise that we still love cheese today—especially on top of pizzas.
In celebration of cheese’s glory, we present you with our 15-cheese MEGA CHEESY PIZZA! We’ve loaded up one brave pizza with the culmination of over 10 millennia of cheese-making history. And you can taste that pungent history in every gooey, melty bite. Check out our Mega Cheesy Pizza recipe below, and explore the many wonders of cheese along the way. Because, to truly love the cheese, you’ve got to take the time to get to know the cheese. Respect the cheese.
Cheese as Old as Time
You guys, CHEESE IS OLDER THAN TIME as we know it. Just let that fact sink in for awhile. It’s thought that the first ancestral cheeses were being made as early as 6000 or even 8000 B.C.! Some of the oldest tangible evidence of cheese-making comes from 5500 B.C., in what’s now modern-day Poland. In those days, the milk was curdled INSIDE of the stomachs of actual animals! Those stomachs had a natural supply of rennet, the enzyme that causes milk to coagulate. All kinds of animal skins and inflated internal organs used to be repurposed into storage vessels. (What a crafty species we are.)
That curdled milk would then be salted and pressed into a harder, chunkier substance—a.k.a. CHEESE, though that name came much later on. In warmer climates, like in the Sahara grasslands, making cheese was the best way to keep milk from going bad. For longer preservation, they made hard cheeses that were heavily salted. But, in cooler climates, like Europe and the Middle East, cheeses could be less salty and less acidic. This allowed microbes and mold to form, which is a good thing on Planet Cheese. That mold is what gives the thousands of different cheeses their distinct (and often pungent) flavors.
Wherever they were made, early cheeses were generally pretty salty and sour. The texture is said to have been a cross between a chunkier cottage cheese and modern day feta cheese. (YUM.) Archaeologists have found carvings illustrating cheese making in Ancient Egyptian tombs. Then the Ancient Greeks continued the cheese-making tradition, and even had a myth to explain the origin of the magical, curdled-milk creation. The Greeks believed that cheese was discovered by Aristaeus, a giant Cyclops who was milking sheep and goats and storing the milk. Smart Cyclops, eh? Of course, the Ancient Romans eventually conquered the Greeks, and they turned cheese-making into an art form that spread across Europe. It was in Rome that cheese—in all its stinkiness—earned its rightful place as a common food group. Lucky for us, cheese shows no signs of slowing down its delicious dominance.
How Cheese is Made & How it Got its Name
Each cheese is unique, not unlike a snowflake, but there’s a common process used to produce them. Cheese comes from milk, but not just cow’s milk—there are cheeses made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, buffalo’s milk, horse’s milk, and even camel’s and moose’s milk! The milk has to be acidified, and then that enzyme rennet is added to cause the coagulation. It’s the casein (one of the proteins that’s in milk) that coagulates as the milk curdles from a liquid to a solid. Through this process, the solids are separated from the liquid, and those solids are then pressed into their final, cheesy form.
The word “cheese” is thought to trace WAY back to Proto-Indo-European language (say that 5 times fast)—basically the old-schoolest form of language that gave birth to all of the Indo-European languages today. (Cheese is an OG, y’all.) In Proto-Indo-European language, the root *kwat- meant “to ferment, become sour.” That eventually morphed into caseus in Latin, which came to mean cheese (and is also where we got the word “casein”). The Latin form changed across all kinds of languages, like kaas in Dutch, Kees in Low German, and eventually chese in Middle English.
And, because cheese has been around and been talked about for so long, it’s woven its way into our lives and our language. You can be a turophile (toor-uh-fahyl), meaning a connoisseur or lover of cheese. (In Greek, tyros means cheese). As in, “If I could have every cheese on my pizza, I would, because I’m a bona fide turophile!” You can also become a cheesemonger, or a specialist seller of cheese—if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to years of formal education, cheese tasting, and hands-on experience. If you live in Wisconsin, you might just be a cheesehead. And, of course, you can be a cheeseball, someone who is corny, goofy, or ‘cheesy.’
Cheese for Thought
There’s a lot to say about cheese, and we can’t do it all in one day. Let’s face it, we’re Pizza Freaks—we’ll always be talking about cheese. But, for now, we’ve got some cheesetastic facts that are just too cool to not share with you!
- Across the entire planet, more cheese is produced than coffee, tobacco, tea, and cocoa beans…COMBINED! Now that’s a lotta cheese, folks.
- The most popular cheese in the world is gouda—it accounts for more than half of our global cheese consumption.
- You need 10 pounds of milk just to make 1 pound of some cheeses!
- It’s estimated that there are around 1,000 different French cheeses.
- The holes created in cheese are caused by microscopic flecks of hay that get into the milk. As the cheese matures, those teeny flecks turn into bigger and bigger holes.
- The smell of stinky cheese is caused by the Brevibacterium linens—which is the same bacterium that causes the smell of stinky feet!
- Cheese contains trace amounts of naturally-occurring morphine—an opioid pain reliever, like heroin. That morphine comes from the cow’s liver, and cheese breaks back down into an opioid (casomorphins) when we digest it!
- Mice actually DON’T like cheese! Say whaaat? Yes, a study in 2006 found that mice actually avoided cheese and dairy in general, opting for grains, fruits, and sweets instead.
- The cheesiest pizza ever made was the Centouno Formaggio Pizza, made in Portland, Oregon using 101 different cheeses! The pizza parlor’s inspiration for their cheesy feat? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ 99-cheese pizza.
But Wait, Cheese Gets Weirder
Take a bite of any cheese and you’ll know what magic tastes like. And that kind of magic has taken cheese to some pretty weird places.
- Stilton blue cheese has been known to cause especially odd and vivid dreams.
- Edam cheese never goes bad—it only hardens!
- The world’s most expensive cheese is pule cheese, and it costs around $600 per pound! It comes from the milk Balkan donkeys in Serbia, and there are only about 100 female donkeys that are milked to make this special cheese.
- You can also get moose cheese for around $420-450 per pound. Moose cheese is one of the rarest foods on Earth, because there are only 3 moose on the entire planet that are used to make it! Those 3 moose live in Bjursholm, Sweden, and milking them takes nearly 2 hours and has to be done in complete silence.
- American cheese isn’t actually cheese… Legally, in the U.S., it has to be labeled as “cheese product” or “American Singles” because the way the cheese is made is so different from any real cheese. Kraft Singles, for example, are less than 51% real cheese.
- Andrew Jackson once had a block of cheddar cheese that was 4 feet across and 2 feet thick delivered to the White House! The cheddar block weighed almost 1400 pounds, but Jackson invited 10,000 people to the White House to eat it and it was gone in 2 hours.
- Albertville, France’s electricity is actually powered by Beaufort cheese! Because the whey from the milk isn’t necessary to make the cheese, it’s kept and bacteria is added to it, which then transforms into biogas. That gas is fed through an engine, which heats up water, which then generates electricity!
There's No Such Thing as Too Much Cheese
It may be possible to have too much of a good thing, but not when it comes to cheese (or pizza). There’s always room for more pizza. And there’s always room for more CHEESE on top of a pizza. We piled 15 marvelous cheeses onto our Mega Cheesy Pizza—how cheesy can YOU get?
Parmesan Pizza Crust:
- 2 ¼ cup bread flour
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 cup parmesan
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 cup water
Mega Cheesy Sauce:
- whipped cream cheese
- gouda dip
Mega Cheesy Cheeses:
- mozzarella slices
- shredded sharp cheddar
- 4-cheese Mexican blend – Monterey Jack, mild cheddar, queso quesadilla, asadero natural cheeses
- Colby Jack, shredded
- gruyere, grated
Mega Cheesy Toppers:
- blue cheese crumbles
- tomato-basil goat cheese crumbles
- grated parmesan
- queso fresco
- bread crumbs
*These are just les fromages that we used. Use whichever cheeses you like on your Mega Cheesy Pizza!
- Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- In a bowl, combine flour, yeast, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Add water. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth and a soft dough forms.
- Knead for 2-3 minutes on a floured surface until dough has loosened and is elastic.
- Cover and rest 15 minutes.
- Yields 2 servings of dough. Cut dough in half and roll out desired half to fit 12-inch pizza pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove crust from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Spread on your soft cheeses as your Mega Cheesy Sauce.
- Layer on your sliced and shredded Mega Cheesy Cheeses.
- Crumble and sprinkle on Mega Cheesy Toppers.
- Return to oven to bake for 5-8 minutes, until cheese is golden brown and starting to blister.
- Serve, slice, and Eat the Mega Cheesy Pizza already!
Yields 1 insanely awesome extra cheesy pizza.