Yum! One of my favorite – and most underrated – cheeses on the market. But where did such a gustatory wonder come from?
Halloumi originated in Cyprus and was initially created back in the Medieval Byzantine days. It’s found throughout the Middle East – though my first experience with the rubbery wonder was in a NE corner of London, where Cypriot immigrants offered halloumi, feta and olives by the pound (not to mention a good slice of heroin down the road, or so the scene appeared from afar!).
Traditionally, the cheese is made from a combination of goat and sheep’s cheese, though these days, industrial halloumi contains more cow’s milk and isn’t aged as long – yes, it’s officially been touched by the white(r) man! Mint leaves were used as a preservative before the invention of the refrigerator, and many modern packages of halloumi will have bits of mint leaf on the surface of the cheese. Fancy!
Hairy 80’s models – and your grandma – are big fans of the halloumi!
As I’m sure the halloumi pimps in the video would tell you, this cheese is wonderfully versatile. Often fried until a crispy golden brown without melting due to its higher-than-normal melting point, halloumi is especially good for kebabs, roasts, or as an ingredient in salads. The halloumi – carmelized onion combo is pretty damn killer, in my books!
My Latest Nibble
At the Abu Dhabi mall, our first weekend trip to the city, we delved into some multi-grain Halloumi wraps and a big plate fulla veggies. Soft and herby, this wrap fully hit the spot after a long day of abaya-gazing and shopping.
Quick calorie facts: 100 grams of halloumi cheese has about 320 calories and a typical serving of 1 oz., or 30 g, contains 94 calories. It’s a great source of protein (what up all you vegetarians out there!), but beware the sodium. This cheesy bady boy packs a salty punch!
Interesting (well, I thought so) Tid Bit
Halloumi is currently registered as a protected Cypriot product within the US but not the EU. The delay in registering the name halloumi with the EU has been largely due to a conflict between dairy producers and sheep and goat farmers as to whether registered halloumi will contain cow’s milk or not – and if so, at what ratios with sheep and goat’s milk. If it is registered as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) it will enjoy the same safeguards as 600 or so other agricultural products such as feta and parmesan cheese. Perhaps the row over halloumi’s true recipe could explain why – oh why – it’s just not as popular as its modern counter-cheeses.
And now, for the fight you’ve all been waiting for! In the blue corner, weighing in at 3.2 ounces, the uncontested champion of exotic Mediterranean cheeses, Fetaaaaaahhhh! And, in the red corner, the underdog from the underbelly of Cyprus, 3 ounces of deadly deliciousness, HALLOUMIIIIIII!
FETA VS. HALLOUMI
A rather Libran end to the whole fighting fiasco. Aaaaaahhhh….love wins in the end. Hehe.