Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cheese of the Week: Queso de Cuadro

After tasting 50 samples of this cheese. I had to make it the cheese of the week.

This cheese is produce only in Chiapas and it varies from region to region. The cheese is commonly made with raw cows milk and some producers make small batches with pasteurized milk for some specific markets.

I believe the best examples are from the Ocosingo and Costa regions of the state of Chiapas. Those cheese are creamier, more milky and fresh, and overall better in texture. This may be due to the better pasture in those regions and a smaller incidence of cows eating silage.

A recent issue with this cheese is the use of milk from cows eating the infamous "pollinaza" and "gallinaza." Basically chicken feces. The region around Tonala has one of the largest chicken processing plants in the state and therefore produces a lot of "feed."

The producers in this region had started using the feed until the government started monitoring and discourage the use of milk from cows on this diet for the making of raw cheeses. However, some cheesemakers are still using it for pasteurized versions. The Minister of Agriculture of the state promised me that by the end of the year they will have a total ban.

Still the issue of feed for cows is important and I will write about it soon. Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilema is a good read to learn about feed.

This style is commonly found in in the major cities of Mexico, in Guatemala and in Texas (only the pasteurized version).

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