Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ancient and Historical Cheeses

I went to another cheese tasting tonight. This time the theme was ancient and historical cheeses. It was very interesting. Jill, the cheese store owner and class instructor, talked about the history of old cheeses. The oldest cheese still in production is feta. The original feta cheeses were made with sheep's milk but if you buy your feta at the regular grocery store, chances are that it's made with cow's milk. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's worth the extra money to buy the sheep's milk version. It doesn't just taste like salt like the cow's milk version. The origin of mozzarella is also quite interesting. It was not created in Italy as you may have thought but was actually invented by the Egyptians. They used the water buffalo for doing a lot of hard labor but they also collected their milk. From that, they made the first mozzarella. The story is that when Mark Anthony went to Egypt, he and Cleopatra ate a lot of mozzarella (thus causing their passion for one another - side note: the Egyptian wealthy started eating mozzarella as an aphrodisiac after this event. Mark Anthony then loved the cheese so much that he sent water buffalo back to Caesar along with the recipe for the cheese. That's how it made its way to Italy.

Also, if you like Brie and have only eaten it in the States then you haven't eaten real Brie it turns out. That is because the real Brie is made of unpasteurized milk that is less than 60 days old. In the US, it is illegal to sell such cheeses. Therefore the Bries that we have here are all pasteurized. The same is true of Camembert. So, it seems that the next time I'm in France, I must try a Camembert!

There were many other interesting stories that maybe I'll write later.

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