WHAT IS FETA?
Long ago in Greece this was traditionally a mixed milk cheese. Shepherds would have a flock of sheep with a goat or two milked into the mix. And if you were a Greek sailing the ocean and conquering islands, what better cheese to bring with you then a block of solid milk literally kept fresh by floating in a salty brine?
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WHERE IS FETA MADE?
As of today, the officially designated version can only be made in Greece. However the non-official versions are made all over the world. At one point France was actually exporting more feta to the U.S.A. then Greece.
LIKE JASON BOURNE, IS FETA A SPY TAKING OUT GOVERNMENT BACKED AGENCIES?
Ok, this cheese makes me sad. Judy Ridgway’s 1999 book The Cheese Companion recommends when eating feta you “Serve with a glass of Ouzo and you will immediately be transported off to Greece.” But today most of the feta consumed in the States is from France, Denmark and Wisconsin. You’re not alone if you’re getting a hint of international intrigue here (how often do “Wisconsin” and “international intrigue” end up in the same sentence, hmm?). That’s because in 2002 Greece won a European court case making feta a product of designated origin (PDO). Unlike other P.D.O.s, no one but Greece is allowed to call their cheese “feta” (sorry Bulgaria). And this is just the first assault. Cheese producers of Parmesan, Muenster and Gruyere are now following suite. The lyrics from that Imagine Dragons song come to mind “Welcome to the new age…. it’s a revolution I suppose”.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH FETA?
Feta is a cheese soaked in brine which gives it a very salty flavor. Washing the cheese off before serving makes it much easier to pair to the flavor of the cheese versus the saltiness. In terms of cheese plates, go with an older barrel aged version to get some character. For a cheese flight by country, Myzithra and a grilled Halloumi can give you a range of textures. If you want to go by cheese type, a Humboldt Fog and Aged Gouda could be interesting. When pairing with a wine, Greek whites are a common pairing though mild reds can work as well.