To people who like food, pasteurization must be viewed as a mixed blessing at best. Oh, sure, the flash-heating process kills bacteria in milk and other liquids. But it also kills taste.
In the world of cheese, wrong-headed bureaucrats at the Food & Drug Administration long ago enacted a draconian standard for allowing imported cheese into the United States. It either must be pasteurized or aged for a minimum of 60 days.
That presents a problem for certain younger cheeses -- and the Americans who love them. Case in point: St. Nectaire, the wondrously silky soft cheese that is properly made from the fresh, unpasteurized milk of French cows.
If you go to France, you can get that marvelous raw-milk variety, which is dense and soft and creamy, with a classic mushroomy aroma. It's a farmhouse cheese in all its earthy glory.
Sadly, the FDA won't allow the importation of that kind, because real St. Nectaire is made with uncooked milk, then sold while it's young. So while the versions of St. Nectaire you can get in the United States can be tasty, they're often relatively bland.
Even if you get one of the better pasteurized versions (look for the Babut or Prugne brands), they're not the real thing. They're just not. If you want to taste the difference, go to France.
(Note: I chose to write about St. Nectaire today because a reader mentioned it in a previous post. If there are any cheeses other people want me to write about, write a comment and I will.)