Wednesday, October 26, 2005

If it's feta, it MUST be Greek

The European Court yesterday granted Greece the sole right to the name feta cheese, after a lengthy battle in which countries like Denmark and Germany were battling for the right to call some of their white cheeses feta. The label feta cheese is now considered Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), and can only be used for cheese made from sheep and goat's milk, produced in Greece by special super secret recipes, modes of production, and certain geographic conditions.

A few folks are quite pissed off by this ruling, but still, I have to tend to agree that feta should indeed be Greek in origin. Go to any restaurant in America, and what do you find? The mere addition of feta cheese to any dish instantly makes it a Greek dish! It is amazing how easy it is to cross the cultural divide of food by a simple ingredient. By this measure, it would seem that Americans think all Greek dishes contain feta. Ok, maybe that is only partially true. Actually, some cooks use it more than others, and it is often found on a Greek table much like Americans have butter on their table.

I confess that personally, I am not horribly fond of feta. In small amounts, in certain dishes, it is fine, but too much feta always gives me some sort of horrid gastrointestinal problem. I suppose I haven't yet developed enough of a Greek constitution to be able to handle it.

Anyway, congrats to the Greeks for the sole use of feta. You might wanna step up production, however, because I anticipate there will be lots of demand. At least for those American "Greek" dishes.


Gia-Gina said...

This is the same issue France is having with Champagne and Italy with procuitto. I think countries of origin should be able to have things that they label their own, orignal to only that place. I like the idea.

I would love some gyros right now.

Vol Abroad said...

I must disagree. But I guess we take on the characteristics of our host countries after a while. I'm all about naming by process and outcome, not by origin.

Mike said...

Naming by outcome... all I can say is, I've eaten Yorkshire feta and Danish feta and, while it's OK, I wouldn't have said it was feta from the taste. A similarity, maybe.

Champagne makes some sense, especially if it stops people from being charged champagne prices when they're actually being served fizzy wine.

My favourite - Newcastle Brown Ale is now a protected species!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the decsion. I wish we would have similar protections in the states. At my local market the Danish, US and Bulgarian Feta all have Greek symbols, scenery, (and even a GreeGreek flag) and looking typography which is clearly designed to make the consumer think the product is Greek.

Moreover in Bulgaria no one calls the cheese they export Fetalabled, "Feta." they have an entirely different name.

When I see "Feta" I expect cheese from Greece

Vol Abroad said...

Well, I read the label. Unfortunately, in Europe many producers aren't allowed to label country of origin, which is in striking discord with the demonination controlle approach.

Yes, I prefer Danish jam, German sausage, British cheddar, French brie (though there are some nice British bries), but if someone else can make a nice brie, they should be able to call it what it is.