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12 cheeses that you should eat before you die

September 24, 2014

You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese”, says Anthony Bourdain, an American chef and food connoisseur. The process of making cheese is considered to be an art. Not only does cheese have several health benefits but also has a unique rich flavour.

A friend: How do you get a mouse to smile?
Me: Say cheese!

Most of the cheeses in the world are named after the places they have been invented. Here is a list of cheese from all over the world that you must eat whenever you visit these countries:


1. Roquefort

Not everyone can age cheese in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, right? Hence, this blue cheese packed with a piquant, creamy and salty flavour is called the ‘The Cheese of Kings and Popes’.

It is mostly used in salads and dressings and is best paired with Port, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and Meritage varieties of wine.

Fun fact: Before the invention of penicillin, Roquefort was used by shepherds on wounds to avoid gangrene.

2. Brie

Region: Seine-et-Marne (modern French department after division by feudal lord)

Named after the region in which it was invented, the ‘King of Cheeses’ is very versatile. Apart from being a dessert cheese, it is also used in salads and sandwiches. This soft cheese also won a gold medal in the Brie National Contest in 2000 and 2001.

Fun fact: In 1217, a woman gifted a laudable amount of 200 blocks of Brie cheese to impress the French king Philippe Auguste.

3. Camembert

Region: Normandy

Camembert is so popular across the globe that Normandy produces more than 50 million blocks of it annually. It is traditionally paired with Normandy Cider or alternatively can be paired with Beaujolais or Chenin Blanc.

Fun fact: Camembert was savoured by French troops in World War I making it a significant part of their history and culture.


4. Gorgonzola

Region: Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola is one of the finest and oldest cheeses of the world dating back to the 11th century. Gorgonzola blends in every Italian recipe. It is used in pastas, risottos and is an ingredient of four-cheese pizza. Pair it up with wines like Bordeaux Blend, Zinfandel and Sauternes.

Fun fact: The London Stock Exchange is nicknamed ‘Gorgonzola Hall’ due to the greenish marble used in its interior.

5. Mozzarella di Bufala Campana

Region: Campania, Molise, Apulia and Lazio

Mozzarella di Bufala Campana or Buffalo mozzarella is a spin-off to the regular Mozzarella. Rightly named as ‘the Queen of the Mediterranean Cuisine’, this cheese is so versatile that it can be added to salads, calzones, pastas, casseroles and lasagne. It goes best with wines like Beaujolais and Sauvignon Blanc.

Fun fact: In Naples, production of Buffalo Mozzarella saw a hiatus during the World War II which resumed only after the ceasefire.

6. Taleggio

Region: Val Taleggio

Taleggio, in spite of having a strong taste, is very flavourful with a fruity tang. Grated Taleggio is a hit on salads and bruschetta. Taleggio melts like a wonder, so you can top it on polenta or a bed of stir-fried veggies. A range of red and white wines also partner well with this cheese.

Fun fact: Taleggio has been penned down by a lot of Roman writers and thus has been immortalised in their scriptures.

7. Pecorino

Region: Sicily, Sardinia, Lazio, Tuscany

The four main varieties of Pecorino cheese are:
a) Pecorino Romano,
b) Pecorino Sardo,
c) Pecorino Siciliano,
d) Pecorino Toscano

Pecorino is grated over pastas, breads and baking casseroles. Pecorino pairs well with Merlot, Chianti, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fun fact: In Rome, May Day is celebrated by eating fresh fava beans along with Pecorino to welcome the summer season as a symbol of happiness and prosperity.

8. Parmigiano Reggiano

Region: Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, Mantua

Popularly known by the name of Parmesan cheese, it largely consumed across the world. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is grated over pastas or its hard cubes can be melted in soups and risottos. It goes like a beauty with wines like Barbera, Montepulciano, Barolos, Chiantis, Brunello and Tawny Port.

Fun Fact: The most Parmesan cheese wheels cracked simultaneously at multiple venues is 1,209 throughout Canada on 22 March 2014.


9. Gruyère

Region: Canton of Fribourg, Gruyères

Gruyère is a classic Swiss cheese that is made from cow’s milk and is semi-soft in nature. Named after a small Swiss village, the cheese is best suited for traditional fondues. It is used in baking recipes like quiches and pies. It is also used in traditional French onion soup, ham and cheese sandwich, salads and pastas. Amongst red wines, Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah are good accompaniments to Gruyère and in white wine family Riesling and Chardonnay.

Fun Fact: Gruyère has won the title of ‘Best Cheese of the World’ at the World Cheese Awards in London four times.


11. Cheddar

Region: Somerset, Cheddar

Cheddar is the most consumed cheese all over the world. Its popularity has crossed borders and people from all the continents love it. It’s best eaten with Mac ‘n Cheese.

Kid: When should you go on a cheese diet?
Chesse Lover: If you need to ‘cheddar’ a few pounds.

Fun Fact: In 1964’s New York World's Fair, Wisconsin Cheddar cheese weighing 15,853 kg (34,951 lb) was produced which required almost 16,000 cows’ milk.


11. Gouda

Region: South Holland, Gouda

Gouda cheese is used in soups, salads, pizzas, burgers and much more. Medium Gouda goes well with Riesling and Chenin Blanc. Wines like Merlot or Shiraz are to be tasted with well-aged Gouda.

Fun fact: Goudse Kaasmarkt in Holland sells large chunks of Gouda cheese for over 3 centuries now. Also, the charming 400-year old Alkmaar Cheese Market held every year at the Waagplein Square of Netherlands is a delightful affair for Gouda cheese lovers.


12. Manchego

Region: La Mancha

Officially, Queso Manchego in Spanish, the Manchego cheese is produced from the manchega breed of sheep in the region of La Mancha. Manchego is used in a lot of recipes including tortillas, quesadillas and nachos.

It is also eaten with bread, melted in soups, stuffed in meat, topped on pastas & pizzas and much more. Wines that go well with Manchego are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Rioja and Meritage.

Fun Fact: Official Queso Manchego package carries an artwork of the famous fantasy knight Don Quixote along with his squire, Sancho Panza. In the book, the two of them spent many a night savouring Manchega cheese along with a glass of wine. Probably the author, Miguel de Cervantes himself loved the cheese and wrote about the adventures of Don Quixote while relishing it.

Author : Winnie Karnik