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Queso Fresco

October 7, 2010

I had never heard of queso fresco before coming to Spain, and I certainly didn’t think I would like it.  I mean, it looks like this:

And, as the cardboard slip promises, when you pop it out of the plastic container, it maintains the ridges in a canned-cranberry-sauce kinda way.  Not very appetizing.

But there is so much more to queso fresco than its sub-par packaging!  It’s creamy and has a subtle flavor that complements both sweet and savory pairings.  For example, you can spread it on toast with jam.  You could also spread it on bread and top it with lunchmeat for a light dinner, which I’ve done almost every night this week.  Because this cheese is kept cool, it is always refreshing, which is appreciated in this climate.  Now, queso fresco translates to “fresh cheese,” but it’s got nothing to do with France’s crème fraîche.  It’s difficult to describe, but the texture is akin to a spreadable yogurt.  Not as creamy as cream cheese, but almost.  The taste is slightly salty but innocuous.  Delicious.

My commute includes a twice-daily bus ride on a very windy road, and it has left me slightly queasy all week.  Since most other food hasn’t seemed very appealing, open-faced queso fresco and turkey sandwiches have been my saving grace this week.  As I said, they’re light and refreshing: inoffensive but still satisfying.

As for a stateside counterpart, it really feels silly to walk into an American grocery store and look for “fresh cheese,” but I’ve done it.  I never came across any in my searches.  There is a similar campesino cheese that is sold in Mexican groceries, but it’s too salty and is more like feta cheese than queso fresco.  In short, I don’t think you can find the real deal anywhere but Spain.  As such, I plan on milking it for all it’s worth while I can.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 29, 2013 8:27 AM

    I’m with ya on queso fresco, the Spain version is impossible to find in the US. What’s more frustrating is that the Latin American version of queso fresco is totally different, a hard and salty cheese. I think queso fresco is even better than mozzarella with basil and tomato. I wish I could just find recipe for it to make at home, but can’t find one in English at least. It seems like a very regional cheese- only found in Spain and maybe Portugal. I was excited recently to see another fresh cheese called basket cheese (eaten during Easter by Catholics especially Italians), thinking maybe it was the same thing but it’s not.

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