Lilian Min
July 31, 2016 10:49 am
NBC

When I think of durable food, I don’t necessarily think of cheese. Cheese is soft; it’s fickle and prone to molding (though of course, that can be a good thing); it’s not the first thing I’d pack in my apocalypse survival kit. But I’m prepared to literally eat my words, because in a feat/horror of nature, a team of divers recently found a 340-year-old cheese in a shipwreck.

This pungent discovery happened to a Swedish research team investigating the Kronan, a ship that sank in the Baltic Sea back in 1676. Though divers have been digging up the usuals (gold coins, diamond rings, lots of bones) for years, only recently did they stumble upon a much stinkier, but no less bountiful, treasure.

The researchers’ first reactions to the cheese were probably the opposite of what yours would be if you were hit with the smell of a 340-year-old cheese. “I think it smells quite nice, because I like exotic food. But I would not want to taste it,” one (Lars Einarsson) said in an interview, proving that shipwreck explorers both are and aren’t more adventurous than the average person.

As for the specifics of this foul find? According to Einarsson, “It looks a bit like some kind of granular Roquefort cheese. It’s been in the mud, so it’s reasonably well preserved, but at the same time it has been at the bottom of the sea for 340 years – we’re not talking Tutankhamun’s burial chamber.” While we understand he’s trying to contextualize the cheese find in that statement, we’re pretty sure that this cheese has survived in tact for so long is pretty damn impressive.

What’s next for this sumptuous seafloor discovery? Why, a thorough examination — after all, it’s rare for a piece of food from centuries ago to make it into the modern day. Scientists are hoping to learn more about the diets and habits of the sailors who noshed on this cheese back in the 1600s, and are keeping the cheese on close watch and in stable condition to keep it in its stinky form. Here’s to you, sea cheese; may your contributions to science and history be unveiled in time, and hopefully under a fume hood.

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