According to Greek mythology, Aristaios, son of Apollo and Cyrene, was sent by the gods to give the gift of cheese-making to the Greeks. It was called a “gift of everlasting value,” and if the reputation of today’s variety of Greek cheeses is anything to go by, the value of that gift keeps increasing with age.
Whatever their origins, Greek cheeses are among the finest in the world, and many varieties have been accorded protection under the European Union’s Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) provisions. This means that no other EU member nation can use the name, and that these cheeses must meet processing and location of origin standards.
Feta tops of the list of Greek cheeses. Exported all over the world (as are all Greek cheeses), it is highly regarded for its variations – semi-soft to semi-hard, mild to sharp – and for the many ways it can be used – in baked goods, casseroles, appetizers, mezethes, with fruit, and as a table cheese. Hard, salty cheeses like kefalotyri and graviera are enjoyed grated, fried, and served as mezethes and appetizers. Kasseri, one of the few yellowish Greek cheeses, is a favorite table cheese. Sweet cheeses like manouri and fresh myzithra are most often used to create some of the best desserts this side of Mount Olympus.
Below is a list of Greek cheeses, with the name in English letters and in Greek letters, and a pronunciation guide. (Note: the accented syllables are shown in capital letters.)
|Name in English||Name in Greek||Pronunciation|
|San Mihali||Σαν Μιχάλη||sahn meeh-HAH-lee|