There are two things I bring back from Finland on a regular basis. There's the amazing Fazer chocolates – no surprise there. And there's leipäjuusto.
For the uninitiated, leipäjuusto is cheese, but not as we know it, as Spock might have said. Had he visited Finland. And tried leipäjuusto. And felt the urge to comment on it.
Like many Finnish things, leipäjuusto is a little eccentric.
Firstly, it's a cheese that doesn't taste of cheese. And despite its name ("bread cheese") but it doesn't taste of bread either. It has a very mild milky flavour.
Secondly, it doesn't have the texture of cheese (or bread). It's not hard or soft. It is rubbery. So much so that it squeaks when you chew it.
Thirdly, it's often served heated. And no, it doesn't melt like other cheeses: it stubbornly retains its rubbery texture.
Finally, it's usually eaten as a dessert, often with cloudberry jam.
So let me summarise: leipäjuusto is a mildly milky rubbery squeaky warm desserty supposed cheese.
Doesn't sound like a winner, does it?
In fact, British chef famously spat out the small piece of leipäjuusto he had been given to sample by a Finnish TV host, saying: "Will it bounce off the wall? My God, that is disgusting!"
And yet, I love it. Probably more so than most Finns.
Before you jump to conclusions about my taste buds though, let me make it clear that I have no such passion for other Finnish "delicacies". Not for mämmi, an alleged dessert made of rye and molasses ("looks like baby shit, you eat this?" – Gordon Ramsey). Not for karjalanpiirakka, a vulva-shaped rice pie ("you feed this to horses and donkeys, or you eat this at home?" – Gordon Ramsey). Not for etikkasilli, pickled Baltic herring (Gordon Ramsey was probably too busy gagging to comment).
But with all due respect to Gordon, I think he made the wrong call on leipäjuusto.
There, my foodie secret's out.