Stinking Bishop cheese
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Source of milk||Cow|
|Texture||Smooth, Creamy, Semi-Soft|
|Aging time||c. 4 months|
Stinking Bishop is a washed-rind cheese produced since 1972 by Charles Martell and Son at Laurel Farm, Dymock, Gloucestershire in the South West of England. It is made from the milk of Gloucester cattle, which in 1972 consisted of only 68 Gloucester breed heifers. The breed has been revived to make production of the cheese possible, though it is often combined and pasteurised with the milk of Friesian cattle from a nearby county. The fat content is 48%.
The colour ranges from white/yellow to beige, with an orange to grey rind. It is moulded into wheels 2 kg (4.4 lb) in weight, 20 cm (8 inch) in diameter, and 4 cm (1.5 inch) deep. Only about 20 tonnes are produced each year. The distinctive odour comes from the process with which the cheese is washed during its ripening; it is immersed in perry made from the local Stinking Bishop pear (from which the cheese gets its name) every four weeks while it matures. The process is said to have links with that used by local Cistercian monks who have long been associated with the production of washed rind cheeses.
To increase the moisture content and to encourage bacterial activity, salt is not added until the cheese is removed from its mould. Air bubbles form in the mould, giving the finished cheese an Emmental-like appearance when sliced.
In popular culture
The cheese was brought to international attention by a brief but important role in the Oscar-winning 2005 animated film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, in which it was used to revive Wallace from the dead. Demand for the cheese subsequently rose by 500%.
It was also referenced at the end of Episode 4 of Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention; Wallace samples his favourite cheese – an even more pungent variant of Stinking Bishop – named Stinking Archbishop.
Chef Andrew Zimmern, host of the TV show Bizarre Foods (Travel Channel), tastes Stinking Bishop during a visit to Harrods in London. Unfortunately, the show’s recap mentions other delicacies tasted by Andrew, but not the cheese; one has to watch the part where Andrew visits the famous department store, guided by marketing manager Andre Dange.
- "A history of the Stinking Bishop". London: The Independent. September 14, 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- "BBC Gloucestershire report, 12 Sept 2005". BBC. September 12, 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- "Farmer's vow as film boosts demand". The Scotsman.
- Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern - Season 1, Episode 6: United Kingdom - TV.com
- Stinking Bishop
- The Guardian - article about Stinking Bishop and Wallace and Gromit film
- NPR interview with the maker of Stinking Bishop cheese via phone from his farm in the UK