Monday, December 11, 2023

Cheese, please

Today, I had rumi cheese. This is the best Egyptian cheese, in my opinion. Although the name labels it "Roman cheese," everyone agrees that it is Egyptian. I learned today that it dates back 5,000 years, with a wheel of rumi cheese being found inside an Ancient Egyptian tomb. That makes it the world's oldest cheese. Wikipedia describes it as being from the same family as pecorino romano and manchego, Italian and Spanish cheeses respectively. It is not as flaky or hard as pecorino romano. Rumi cheese smells pretty pungent, but it tastes great. I prefer it aged, but some prefer it new. The new cheese is cheaper, and less pungent. The consequence is reduced flavor. Sometimes, they add peppercorns, which improves it, in my opinion. It melts very well, and is a great cheese for many purposes.

Rumi cheese is one of a few characteristic Egyptian cheeses. Most notable is probably areesh or domyati cheese. Areesh is best described as a cross between feta and ricotta, without any salt. It looks like less watery cottage cheese. Domyati cheese is a heavily salted cheese, where the salt is added right to the milk. It is creamier and saltier than feta. 

One particularly Egyptian cheese is mish, a fermented cheese. Mish is is fermented Areesh cheese. You add some old mish with some new areesh, and seal it in a box. You take out some to eat as time goes on, and add more fresh cheese too. Some claim that in the balad (countryside), newlyweds are gifted a box of mish for their new house, which remains with them for a lifetime. Sometimes maggots or worms take root in the cheese. This isn't seen as a demerit, rather just a fact of life with mish. I have never had it. I cannot say I am interested.