In a recent European survey, statistics showed that the inhabitants of well-known cheese-producing countries are not quite as dedicated cheese-eaters as many would imagine: Holland and Denmark consume 16,6 kg of cheese/person/year, Switzerland 17,4 kg/person/year. In both cases this is below the European average of 17.6 kg.

Greek cheeses
Greek cheeses

At the top of the list of biggest cheese-loving countries, someone will expect to find France ( 23.6 kg/person per year) but surprisingly it’s Greece that holds the record with a consumption of no less than 24,2 kg per capita per year!

It’s also true that Greek cheeses pre-dates all other European cheeses made from cows’ milk, and the Italian “Formaggio” and French name “Fromage” stems from the Greek word “formos” (φορμός), a reference to baskets used to drain curd during cheese-making!

Greek cheeses - Aristaeus by François Joseph Bosio
Aristaeus was sent by the gods to give the Greeks the gift of cheese-making
(by François Joseph Bosio (1768–1845), Musée du Louvre, Paris, France)

Cheese is such a rich part of Greece’s history that the ancient Greeks even designated a god to this wonderful food. Aristeus (Αρισταίος), the son of Apollo and Cyrene, was sent by the gods to give the Greeks the gift of cheese-making. It was called a “gift of everlasting value” and if the reputation of today’s Greek cheeses is anything to go by, that value has increased with age.

Greek cheeses - Various cheeses from Greece
Various cheeses from Greece

Greek cheeses are among the finest in the world, and many varieties have been awarded protection under the European Union’s Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO*) provisions.

Greek cheeses - Protected designation of origin (PDO)

According to the Regulation (EC) No. 1107/96 of June 12, 1996 list of PDO cheeses, Greece scores third with 20 registered cheeses. France has the first place with 37 cheeses, followed by Italy with 30. After Greece there is Spain (11), Portugal (10), UK (8), Germany and Denmark (3), Austria (2) and Belgium(1).

For a country that is 6 times smaller from both leading countries, in terms of populations, 5 times smaller from France and 2,3 times smaller from Italy size-wise, then you can see that it scores quite well.

The Greek cheeses with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status are:

  • Anevato
  • Galotyri
  • Graviera Agrafon
  • Graviera Kritis
  • Graviera Naxou
  • Kalathaki Limnou
  • Kasseri
  • Katiki Domokou
  • Kefalograviera
  • Kopanisti
  • Ladotyri Mytilinis
  • Manouri
  • Metsovone
  • Batzos
  • Xynomyzithra Kritis
  • Pichtogalo Chanion
  • San Michali
  • Sfela
  • Feta
  • Formaella Arachovas Parnassou

Through this series of posts will present you some of the most fine and tasty Greek cheeses. We will start with the indisputed «king» of Greek cheeses: «Feta», certainly the best known and most versatile of all Greek cheeses.

Feta the “king” of Greek cheeses

*To be labelled PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) by the E.U. a product must be approved as coming from a specific region and being made by specific methods and using local ingredients.

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