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29.03.2016 | Words by: Alise Akimova

That feeling when you’re climbing a Parmigiano, you start falling and keep on falling until a soft bed of Camembert breaks your fall? Since recently this is not a totally imaginary scene anymore. Suddenly this subject was discussed just as often during a cheese platter as that goat cheese is eaten with honey. Where the following comes from no-one knows exactly, but one can get bizarre dreams of eating cheese.

“I hope I won’t sleep very restless again because all the cheese we had”, my friend mentioned after our cheese-fest. Big amounts of French cheese before bedtime would always cause her to have tumultuous dreams, so she said. Influencing your dreams by cheese – it’s intriguing.

Mental dreams on cheese were a legit reason – purely for fun – to start a small-scaled empirical study within my group of acquaintances. With one objective: to see if this theory can be confirmed, yet also to discover the origins of this urban myth. During the last somewhat excessive amount of Mont d’Or and runny Spanish cheese, I received feedback from friends about their previous cheese dreams, as well as reactions from new insiders who promised to report their experiences back to me the following day. The cheese respondents gave different reactions: one dreamed euphorically, while the other experienced some light panic-attacks during her REM-sleep. A clear-cut effect couldn’t be detected. 

Fromagerie Kef on the Marnixstraat imports foreign cheeses since the 1950s to Amsterdam, and used to be supplier of the cheeses at Restaurant DS. Kef is regarded as a connaiseur de fromage and an institution within this field in the region of Amsterdam. The time was ripe to pay them a visit.

“Actually we never heard of such a thing”, said two lady-cheesemongers while laughing behind a counter, which was indulgently filled with aromatic, fermented pearls of cheese. At the office of the same fromagerie, some fascinated and enthusiastic reactions were sparked by my research question. “If this is true, we are sitting on a goldmine!”, Thijs, being a cheesemonger for years, remarks while laughing. But he as well never heard of this before. In the meanwhile, at Kef they are also trying to contribute to my research. “What it does remind me of are reindeer, who sometimes eat a type of moss, after which their offspring drink their reindeer milk, which makes them hallucinate.”

Chef Arvid, who has a lot of experience in different well-known restaurants in Amsterdam, was already acquainted with this phenomenon. According to him there are different fungi in the cheese, which cause this effect. “I prefer a Roquefort”, he states firmly.

The use of cheese as a type of narcotic sleep medication is not one that lies in the line of expectations, but there seems to be a scientific explanation. The British Cheese Board (such a board does exists) conducted a scientific research to dreams caused by cheese. A test group of two-hundred participants were examined after giving them a certain amount of cheese, and asking them if they could try and remember their dreams. Most of the effect was achieved by ”Blue Stilton” cheese, whereby the test subjects saw talking stuffed animals and vegetarian crocodiles dropping by in their sleep. According to the scientists, the effect is caused by amino acids in the cheese called tryptophan, which lowers stress levels and induces sleep. Which amount of cheese should one eat, to enjoy the desired effect? According to the researchers about 20 grams: this is about a quarter of a Brie. Based on this quantity, the test subjects confirmed that they had happy and joyous dreams in 80% of the cases.

Researchers recommend a quarter Brie, but the variation and diversity of possibilities is endless. Make a positive impression by giving a piece of exotic cheese if your life companions are having a bad night’s rest. When sharing a cheese platter with a good friend, don’t forget to ask the following day about his or her cheese dreams.

Restaurant DS now serves a cheese board with cheeses by Bourgondische Lifestyle, including a Blue Stilton. Fromagerie Kef is open for cheese tastings on Sundays.
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