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Monday, October 23, 2017

QUESOS ESPAÑOLES - SPANISH CHEESES FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL

cabrales
Photo by: Manolo-lopez
Leon queiso, Gall, Port queijo, L. casĕus (molded piece of pressed curd) Eng. cheese, coagulated curd. It is thought that cheese originated by accident. Shepherds carried milk in the stomachs of dead animals. Due to the heat and enzymes in the stomachs, the milk coagulated.
           
Cheese remains in Spain date from the Neolithic, Iron and Bronze ages. Medieval cookery manuscripts contain numerous recipes calling for fried cheese, cheese pastries and cakes and cheese sauces. During the 10th C there was a law in León ordering lords to give cheese, wheat and rye bread and onions to villains on the days they labored in their fields. Cheeses were given as gifts as seen in the second part of Don Quijote.

Semi-Cured Manchego
Phioto by: Lord-Williams
Regional cheeses are famous throughout Spain. Asturias produces Cabrales, a blue cheese made with ewes, goats and cows milk wrapped in sycamore leaves and cured in natural caves face north in limestone mountains. (See blog titled “Cabrales,” published July 6, 2012.)

Cabrales cheese is the forerunner of the French Roquefort cheese or visa versa. Spaniards claim that French pilgrims on the Way of St. James took their recipe home.  The French contradict this saying the Spaniards copied their cheese.

Manchego cheese originated in La Mancha, arid central Spain. It is made with ewes’ milk from a breed called “manchega.” It matures at least 30 days,. There are several varieties ranging from soft to hard cheese depending on the length of time it is allowed to mature. It served as a hardy item ever present in Enrique IV's 15th century saddle pack as well as Washington Irving's  in the 19th century.
           
Torta del Casar
Photo from: Toda Extremadura
Torta del Casar, cheese from merino or churra sheep made in April when chard appears. When the ewe eats chard, the vegetable tenet in it automatically curdles its milk without adding any other ingredients or using any processing techniques. The cheese is left to cure in chard leaves. When ready to eat, a circle is cut in the top part of rind of this cylindrical cheese and removed. Pieces of bread are dipped into the cream inside for what has been called the “gastronomic treasure of Estremadura”. Its somewhat acrid lactic flavor is complemented with a dry red wine. Also, it is a fundamental ingredient for sauces.

Tronchón in Teruel, Aragon is famous for its cheese. It is made with ewe’s milk or a mixture of ewe and goat’s ,milk. It is aged, which may range from a soft to a hard texture. Cervantes mentions this twice in the second part of Don Quijote.

Mahón cheese, from the Baleares Islands, was exported to England by the 13th century. Andalusia is known for Payoyo cheese, from Villaluenga del Rosario, made form goat’s milk and El Bosque cheese, from Grazalema natural park, is made from goat or ewe’s milk among so many others.

[Dialecto. 1947:300; García del Cerro. 1990: 188; Inventario. 1996:201:302-303; and Pers. Conversations. Concha de Tielve. 4-5 Jun 03 and Antonio Van der Valle. Apr 19, 03; Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:42 and Trapiello. 1994:14]



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