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Spicy Foods and Cheese

Spicy foods and cheese are a uniquely suited pair. Do you ever wonder why spicy foods are so often paired with dairy, whether it's a sprinkle of cheese on top of nachos, a dollop of sour cream in chili, or cheese-stuffed jalapeno peppers? This isn't just a coincidence: there's a science behind it.

Peppers contain a compound known as capsaicin, giving them their distinctive heat. A spicy bite may have you instinctively reaching for a glass of water, but that has limited relief- it mainly just spreads the capsaicin oil around your mouth. Enter cheese. Dairy products contain casein, a protein that binds to the capsaicin molecules, neutralizing them and washing them away. You'll still be able to taste the spicy flavor, but the burning will be tolerable and smooth.

Simply said, spicy foods and cheese are a perfect pairing. Try these ideas to enjoy some spice and beat the heat all in one bite:

Buffalo wings served with blue cheese dip are maybe the most classic spicy-dairy pairing. Our blue cheese dip, made with St. Agur, complements spicy buffalo wings for a great party snack. Set it out in a nice bowl next to your platter of wings, so everyone can control how much relief they need.

Baked brie is also delicious with a spicy element. Instead of your usual jam, try topping it with pepper jelly for a hint of heat. Serve with a jalapeno pepper garnish, so your guests know what to expect!

Spicy goat cheese dip is another great snack. Mix goat cheese with finely chopped jarred peppers, cream, some fresh herbs and enjoy! It's great on a crudités tray with fresh vegetables.