Anyone versed in the culture of Mexican mealtime will know that the first item placed on the table once it has been set is the cheese. Cotija if there are enchiladas, chilaquiles, or tacos dorados, a manchego type if the dessert is ate (fruit paste) with cheese, adobera for tostadas, and botanero if it’s just a snack while the main dish cooks. Yes, cheese is an important part of the Mexican diet, and as such, we have decided to dedicate a few lines to mention five authentic Mexican cheeses.
A soft, fresh cheese made from cow’s milk. As its name implies, it is used for melting on the grill (asada) or in a frying pan. Ideal for quesadillas or chiles rellenos.
Also known as Mennonite cheese, since this community brought this production style to Mexico. It is made from pasteurized whole cow’s milk and has a hard or semi-hard layer, which makes it perfect to cut into cubes and use as a snack.
This delicacy has been prepared in woven leather or palm leaf baskets for more than 100 years in Tlaxco, a town in the state of Tlaxcala. A cow’s milk cheese with a mild flavor and crumbly texture, it’s ideal for sprinkling over enchiladas or chilaquiles.
Also called quesillo or queso de hebra depending on the region, it is probably the most famous cheese in Mexico. The mild flavor, delicate strands, and capacity for melting mean it’s the best cheese to use when making quesadillas “con queso.”
Unique among Mexican cheeses, as it is one of the few that is aged (at least three months). It also has the collective brand name “Cotija Región de Origen” (Cotija Region of Origin). It is a dry and salty cheese that does not melt, so it is bought in pieces to grate into snacks or soups.
For those avid consumers of Mexican food who want to know more about our cheeses, it is a mission of this editorial column to keep investigating, so stay tuned! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to go out and discover the culinary jewels that can be found in every region of this country.