Cinco de Mayo is almost here! There is so much hype around this holiday, in the US especially, with many people making plans to head to their favorite Mexican spot for food and festivities. Widely, but mistakenly, described as the day of Mexican Independence, Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates the ability of a small group of indigenous Mexicans to overcome a group of overly confident European invaders during the Battle of Puebla.
Although mostly celebrated only in Puebla in Mexico, today in the US, Cinco de Mayo has become a day of celebration in honor of Mexican culture and heritage. Marked with parades, parties, mariachi music, dancing, and food, Cinco de Mayo in the US brings revelers out in droves in search of the very best Mexican culture has to offer.
While most people think tacos, margaritas, and other Mexican specialties, we see it as an occasion to seek out authentic Mexican cheeses. Many people know the white, crumbled cheeses you see sprinkled over your plates at a restaurant, however, there are other Mexican cheeses that are well worth discovering on this day of celebration.
Asadero is a mild and pleasant cheese with slight acidity and tang. It is a fresher cheese and it can be a little chewy but nice and tender. It is wonderfully ooey-gooey and melty, making it great for chili, quesadillas, stuffed peppers or any other dish where you want a nice melting cheese.
Queso De Oaxaca
This pasta filata cheese is consider the “mozzarella of Mexico”. Similar to Mozzarella, Queso de Oaxaca is a stretched curd cheese that is pulled into long strings and then wrapped into a ball. With the consistency of string cheese, it can be shredded and eaten by itself, or you can use it to top your favorite Mexican refried beans, or use it to melt into quesadillas. This mild cheese makes a wonderful snacking cheese for kids. To learn more about pasta filata cheese, read our first blog post here.
Cotija, named after the town of Cotija in Michoacán, is a hard, and crumbly Mexican cheese. This fascinating cheese starts out fresh and salty like a feta cheese, but once it is aged, it undergoes an amazing transformation and becomes hard and crumbly like Parmigiano-Reggiano and other hard cheeses. It is very salty and strong in flavor making it a good cheese for grating. Because it is a hard cheese it does not melt, however, it is ideal for sprinkling on salads, tacos, tostadas, soups, or any other dish you would like to add a kick of salt and flavor.
We hope you use this Cinco de Mayo as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the beautiful flavors of Mexican cheese! To round out your culinary trip to Mexico, head over to the Jen Reviews blog and try their recipe for Smooth Guacamole as a complement to your Cinco de Mayo menu. Enjoy!