On average, Galicians eat seven kilos of cheese per year! Every Spring, Arzua hosted its annual cheese festival. This event is not to be missed as dairy farmers bring their cheese from all over Spain, as well as promoting the locally made cheese from the farms of Galicia. The cheeses are displayed within the town’s centre plaza and taste testing is, of course, required. The hard part of the day is deciding which cheese to take home!
In Galicia, there are four cow’s milk cheeses recognised as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): San Simon da Costa, Queso de Cebreiro, Queso de Arzua, and Queso de Tetilla. This means these cheeses are regulated under an European Union certification which identifies and protects the authenticity of the product. All products under PDO must be made using traditional production methods, meaning the cheese today tastes the same as it has for decades and can not be replicated with any other products other then those produced in Galicia.
Its hard to say which cheese is our favourite, but one of the most intriguing is the Queso de Tetilla, or “little tit” cheese. (Pardon our French…err, well Spanish.) This cheese comes from cows reared right here in Galicia and is matured between 10-30 days. The cheese is yellow in colour with a soft inside and a smooth, creamy taste. It is definitely one of the more popular cheeses here in Galicia and is not to be missed with a glass of Albarino or with quince paste for desert. Its popularity has grown due to its name and the shape which resembles a women’s breast.
The legend claims a Bishop, a long time ago, commissioned a local artist to sculpt a monument of an unidentified lady for the church. Upon finishing the sculpture, the Bishop was mortified at the size of the women’s chest, as like many Galician women, she was well endowed. The Bishop demanded the women’s breasts were cut off to ensure the dignity of the local church. Of course the sculptor obliged, but this very much angered the town’s people. In protest, the women made their cheese in to the shape of their breasts and left them as gifts on the footsteps of the Bishop’s home. The Bishop was not pleased to be left tetilla shaped cheese, but this is how the now famous Quese de Tetilla got it’s shape and historic, albeit funny, name.
The Arzua-Ulloa Cheese Festival takes place the first weekend of March each year. The purpose is to showcase the local cheeses but the festivities also promotes the traditions, culture and artistry of the local area. It is a three day event where you can enjoy competition tapas, bar snacks, workshops, theatre, circus shows and concerts including local Djs and traditional celtic bagpipes. Its not too early to start planning your Camino 2017 to overlap with the famous annual Arzua-Ulloa Cheese Festival next year!
Land, Terroir and Cheese. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from https://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/products-recipes/products/more-about-products/4662898.html
Protected Designation of Origin. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from https://www.cooksinfo.com/protected-designation-of-origin
Tetilla – Cheese.com. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from https://www.cheese.com/tetilla/