When you think of American cheese, what do you think of?

If you answered cheddar, you are not alone: many CISL students associate the word “cheese” in the United States with the yellow, processed cheese that is popular on hamburgers. But this is hardly a representative of true American cheese! CISL students are surprised to find that the U.S. is actually home to thousands of artisan (hand-made, small production) cheeses made from goat, sheep, and cow’s milk.

California is home to many of these small, award-winning cheese producers, so small cheese shops in the state typically have a great selection of local cheeses. CISL San Diego students took a trip to a local cheese shop, Venissimo, to taste the best of the state’s cheeses. Students were pleasantly surprised with the results!

Venissimo Cheese Shop

Led by a CISL teacher, the field trip included a warm-up activity of learning cheese-related vocabulary. (Do you know what it means when something is “cheesy?” The CISL teacher shared the vocabulary at the end of this post). Students brainstormed questions to ask the cheese monger (cheese professional) and also discussed how cheese is used in their countries. With a classroom of students from Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Korea, Japan, and Brazil, the answers were very interesting!

Students then walked the few blocks to Venissimo Cheese, which is located in Downtown San Diego. The cheese monger, Robby, took the students through a tasting of different cheese from California and explained the unique cheese-making process for each cheese that was tasted. The group favorite was the fresh burrata, made the day before at a farm outside of Los Angeles, served with fresh local bread a truffled sea salt. Students agreed that each cheese was unique and delicious.


The tasting ended with a “Question and Answer” portion, where the students had the chance to speak with Robby and ask him questions. What a great way to practice speaking English outside of the classroom! Thank you to Venissimo for hosting our students!


Cheese Vocabulary and Idioms

Cheesy (adj): something that is dorky; not cool

You look cheesy in this photo!


Cheeseball (noun): a person who is acting cheesy

You are such a cheeseball!


Cut the cheese (idiom): to pass gass


The head cheese/The big cheese: the person in charge