Edam (Dutch Edammer) is a Dutch cheese that is traditionally sold as spheres with pale yellow interior and a coat of red paraffin wax. It is named after the town of Edam in the province of North Holland, where the cheese is coated for export and for tourist high season. Edam which has aged for at least 17 weeks is coated with black wax, rather than the usual red or yellow. Edam ages well, travels well, and does not spoil easily — these qualities made it the world's most popular cheese between the 14th and 18th centuries, both at sea and in remote colonies. It is popular in North America, the Nordic countries, and many other countries around the world.
Edam cheese has a very mild taste, is slightly salty or nutty, and has almost no smell when compared to other cheeses. It also has a significantly lower fat content than many other traditional cheeses being approximately 28 percent with an average protein content of 25 percent. Modern Edam is quite soft compared to other cheeses, such as Cheddar, due to its low fat content.
A major producer of Edam is the Friesland Foods company in The Netherlands. In the U.S., the May-bud brand is sold by the Churny Company, a subsidiary of Kraft Foods.
Mild Edam is considered compatible with fruit such as peaches, melons, apricots, and cherries. Aged Edam is often eaten with traditional "cheese fruits" like pears and apples. Like most cheeses, it is commonly eaten on crackers and bread. Pinot noir is a recommended wine to accompany this cheese.
It was also typical in Spain and Latin American countries where it was considered a delicacy. It is the most common cheese used in the popular Czech snack smažený sýr.
Edam cheese has been mentioned in books, films, and on television. In the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, the main character believes that its red outer covering is a sign of impending death. It is a wine flavor nuance in Sideways and an object of desire in the animated film Shopper 13 as well as in Wallace's book East of Edam and in the book and movie Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Edam is featured in a mildly dramatic scene in the Australian film Three Dollars, and actor Jason Flemyng advertised for Edam cheese in the UK. Also mentioned on a Mythbusters episode where it was tested whether or not it could be used as cannon ammo. Needless to say, it failed, however another type of cheese they tested did succeed in breaking the opposing ship's sails.
It is also the punchline to the riddle, "what kind of cheese is always made backwards?"