John Kass

With so much uncertainty in the world, it's upsetting to see American politicians, backed by cheesy special interests, trying to start a war with Europe.

A cheese war.

And in the jingoistic climate of today's aggressive and expansionist cheese policy, I'm a cheese lover without a country. And some will call me a traitor.

When it comes to cheese, there are standards in this world -- of fairness, and of excellence. Such standards shall not be undermined, not for clan or for country.

So, America, you may exile me in the name of Camembert. You may revile me for manchego. But damn it, leave my feta alone.

What started it all was the reasonable European Union request that American cheese-makers stop filching European names for their various cheeses.

That set off an American cheese chorus that was angry, perhaps even xenophobic.

"Muenster is Muenster, no matter how you slice it," declared U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat.

I thought that once the neocons were discredited and out of power, America would stop bending other cultures to its will. But now I see Schumer is playing the same game as the Bushes of old.

Consider Parmesan. Most Americans think it comes pre-grated in a plastic container. That is not Parmesan. That is an abomination.

The EU wonders: How can Americans dare call it Parmesan when it doesn't even come from Parma, Italy?

Don't bring that fake pre-grated collection of salts and fats they call Parmesan-in-a-can to my house, not when my cousin Mariella, from Reggio di Calabria, has made her famous ravioli.

Something terrible might happen. You might be tempted to shake your domestic cheesy trash upon her ravioli.

And then Mariella just might lop your hand off.

Yes, it's a horrible thought. But the truth is, none of us would stop her. Why? Because fake Parmesan is an insult. Sure, your hand on the kitchen floor, the fingers twitching, might ruin our meal. But the meal would already be ruined, because of your Parmesan-in-a-can.

After the incident of the hand, we would share your grief, give you hugs of sympathy and even package your lopped hand in a shopping bag, as hospitality requires.

European cheese lovers are not savages, no matter what the Schumer-backed cheese-o-cons say.

The American approach to Greek feta is another insult.

That crumbly garbage in a plastic tub that some Americans put on their salads isn't feta. It's not even from sheep's milk.

And what about Greek yogurt? Yet another insult.