People travel for all kinds of reasons. Many are soul searching, looking to find their true selves, many are looking for an adventure, or for love, or to expand their knowledge and understanding of other cultures… but some people… more than you’d think… are 110% in it for cheese. Cheese is inarguably the greatest factor of travel and of life, the most treasured accomplishment of the human existence. Certainly some of you out there are fans of food and culinary tourism, but there’s this lesser talked about sub-category of it, possibly because people may not want to admit that they bought plane tickets and planned two full weeks of their lives around eating a specific cheese, but it’s real, it happens; it’s cheese tourism.
Europe easily dominates the cheese tourism industry, and the five most popular countries for cheese travel likely won’t surprise you. They are classic, as is their world renowned cheeses, but nothing beats experiencing a cheese while in its home land. After all, its region is why it tastes the way it does. The cheese making process is fairly standard, just varying time and animal in many cases. The region can influence the cheese a lot because it influences the animal it comes from who is living off that specific land and all it has to offer, it makes a difference in the taste of the milk and then ultimately the cheese. Another benefit to noming the delicious cheese in it’s region of origin is you can often take tours to see how it’s made, and sometimes even a class to make it yourself. You can learn how to cook with it, pair it with other foods and wine, or just enjoy it in it’s most natural and fresh form. Believe it or not, taking some home with you as a souvenir might actually still be fresher than buying it from your home country. Think about it, either way it makes the eight or so hour flight over, only this way it goes right from your backpack to your fridge instead of all the usual in between flight to grocery store process. The TSA won’t sass you, they won’t even ask for a bite, just buy it vacuum sealed at the airport right before your flight home. I’ve successfully done this a number of times, in fact, for inspiration, as I write this very post, I am currently eating some delicious cheese snacks that my mom brought home from Switzerland a few days ago. Couldn’t be better. Too bad you don’t have any… guess you’ll just have to check out these cheese destinations and plan your next trip.
Region: Emilia Romana
Photo via Flickr/gavichi
Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano
Photo via Photopin/Paul Kelly
Photo via Photopin/Baptiste Garçon
Photo via Photopin/Adelle & Justin
Region: South West England
Photo via Photopin/UKGardenPhotos
Photo via Flickr/Carey Palenchar
Region: La Mancha
Photo via Photopin/Israel Gutiérrez
Photo via Photopin/stu_spivack
Photo via Photopin/Paul
Photo via Photopin/Smabs Sputzer
Bonus Country: Portugal
Portugal is a bonus country because it is super underrated in the cheese world and usually isn’t on the list of places that might come to mind for non Europeans when they think of cheese tourism. However, during my trip to the Azores last spring I was able to learn first hand why Portugal, and specifically the islands of the Azores, need to be immediately added to your cheese travel bucket list. You may now be recalling how I fell The Notebook status in love with the cheese I had during that trip. I ordered it daily throughout the week and brought back about as much as I could fit in my backpack, and I even got a block to carry in hand and straight up eat while in the boarding line and on the plane (not recommended, I may have become a tad over zealous, love makes us do crazy things). Anyways, this cheese was so good I’ve become determined to get it on as many cheese maps as I can. This isn’t the first cheese tourism post I’ve written, and it sure as hell won’t be the last.
Region: Archipelago of the Azores
Photo via Photopin/Guillaume Baviere
Cheese: São Jorge
Photo via Sarah Freeman