Cheese is just one of those foods that’s delicious, versatile, and easy-to-prepare, and (sometimes) all at the same time. Though cheese is really little more than a milk derivative, it can be molded into countless flavors, textures and consistencies to match virtually any palate. It’s no wonder so many countries have their own kinds of cheese creations and cheese dishes that reflect not just local tastes, but also cultural traditions of the region and its history.
Few foods can claim as much versatility and ease of use across so many diverse cultures across the world. Flavor and use, though, often comes down to what kind of cheese is being used — in some parts of the world, goats and sheep are more prevalent than cows, in which case goat and sheep cheese are more often used in local dishes rather than cow’s milk cheese. These are usually a little sharper in taste and harder in texture, which influences the types of dishes that locals create for them.
There’s a lot that goes into creating specific kinds of cheese, and some are deceptively complex — for example, it usually takes about 10 liters of milk to make just one kilogram of hard cheese. And, more generally, it takes around 10 pounds of milk to make just one pound of cheese. Still, cheese is so popular across the world that there are more than 2,000 different varieties available, and more cheese is produced annually worldwide than coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, and tobacco combined.
In Greece, a popular cheese is halloumi… often called the “squeaky cheese” (because of its firm yet pliant and buoyant texture). It is usually grilled or fried and served with olive oil and chili flakes as a small meze dish or even as an accompaniment to a main meal. Another Greek favorite is saganaki, which is usually one of the harder, saltier goat cheeses that is fried in a small pan and served with lemon juice and pepper.
Melting cheese is a popular treatment for cheese dishes in many countries… there’s the old favorite, a Swiss fondue that is now eaten across the world using all types of cheese (and sometimes even chocolate). In Mexico there is a version of the fondue called queso fundido, which is eaten not by dipping bread or meat into the cheese but by scooping it out of the port with tortilla chips.
No matter where you are in the world, chances are there will be a delicious cheese dish for you to enjoy. Read on for more incredible cheese creations across the globe.
Saganaki is usually any of a number of traditional Greek dishes prepared in a small frying pan, though the best known of these is an appetizer made of fried cheese. Traditionally the cheese of preference is usually graviera, kefalograviera, halloumi, kasseri, kefalotyri, or feta cheese. The cheese is melted in a small frying pan until it is bubbling and generally served with lemon juice and pepper. You eat it by scooping it up with chunks of bread.
Mexican Queso Fundido
Mexican queso fundido is a little like a really rich and creamy Mexican fondue. Though, unlike fondue, you don’t dip anything in it, instead, you scoop it onto tortillas. If you like, serve a little pico de gallo or diced fresh tomatoes on the side.