Monday, October 21, 2013

Cheese Map

Several years ago I got a ride from a truck driver who worked for an Edirne-based cheese factory. He told me that Turkey had over 330 kinds of cheese. At the time I was naive enough to think this must be an absurd exaggeration, or at least an incredibly optimistic way of counting minor variations on beyaz peynir. Now I know better, thanks in part to Artun Ünsal's excellent book Süt Uyuyunca [While Milk Sleeps] from which this map is taken.
The book, if not the map itself, should answer all your Turkish-cheese related questions, although I will add my one other piece of anecdotal knowledge on the subject, concerning the question of why people in southeastern Turkey seem to love such salty cheese. I asked a cheese-shop owner once, and he explained that actually they don't, but profit-minded cheese producers insist on over-salting their cheeses to better preserve them in the hot climate instead of expending the time and effort to refrigerate well and sell fresh.