National Cheese Lover’s Day: 5 Beloved Quesos in Latin America
National Cheese Lover’s Day: 5 Beloved Quesos in Latin America Freepik

National Cheese Lover's Day, which takes place on January 20th, is the perfect occasion to enjoy some of the many types of 'queso' available in the U.S. and Latin America.

Cheese, a versatile dairy product beloved by most, boasts a wide array of varieties used in some of the most popular dishes across the region. From Brazilian 'pão de queijo' to Paraguayan 'chipa,' Venezuelan arepas, or Mexican quesadillas, queso is everywhere.

"In Mexico alone, there are more than 40 varieties of quesos, such as 'Oaxaca' cheese (quesillo), Chihuahua, or Cotija. Notably, Mexican production surpassed 445,000 tons in 2021, representing a 62% increase in just the last decade," data from Statista shows.

Cheese consumption in Brazil was estimated at 824,000 metric tons in 2021, while consumption in Mexico is estimated at 569,000 tons 455,000 tons for Argentina, according to the same outlet.

Here is a list of five of the most beloved quesos in Latin America.

National Cheese Lover's Day: 5 Beloved Quesos in Latin America

1. Queso Fresco: The Most Consumed Cheese in Mexico

No one can imagine Mexican cuisine without 'queso fresco,' also known as 'cuajada' in some regions of Mexico. Produced with a mix of cow and goat milk, it is used in snacks like tostadas and beans. 'Queso Oaxaca,' also called 'quesillo,' is another star in Mexican cuisine, and the cheese most used for 'quesadillas.'

2. Queso Crema: Growing in Consumption in Chile

According to Chile's Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies, the consumption of cheese in the country amounts to 11 kilograms per capita a year, making it the highest consumer of this product in Latin America, followed by Uruguay (10.7 kilograms per capita) and Argentina (9.9 kilograms per capita), as reported in December by the specialized site En Alimentos. The main reason, they argue, is the increase in the production of some varieties such as 'cream cheese,' a soft, usually mild-tasting fresh cheese made from milk and cream.

3. 'Queijo Prato:' A Popular Treat in Brazil

This traditional Brazilian cheese is made from pasteurized cow's milk, similar to the Danish cheese Danbo. Its name can be translated as "plate-shaped cheese," named after the shape it was originally made by the immigrants. It is a Brazilian soft cheese and one of the most popular in the country. It is semi-cooked and pressed, with a smooth and open texture, featuring many small holes throughout the body.

4. 'Queso Mozzarella:' A Staple in Argentine Kitchens

Argentina can be described as a country of cheese enthusiasts. They add it to almost every meal and in quantities that, for many, could be considered excessive. This is the case with 'Queso Mozzarella' on pizzas, as the traditional pies are usually prepared using at least twice as much cheese as in Italy.

5. 'Queso Paraguayo:' The Ultimate Cheese in Paraguay

"Queso Paraguay" or "Queso paraguayo" is a fundamental ingredient in traditional Paraguayan cuisine, gaining popularity through "chipas," a type of small, baked, cheese-flavored rolls that are a popular snack in Paraguay and other South American countries.Crafted from cow's milk, this cheese is produced by combining pure milk with "cuajada," a blend that includes "rennet" – a digestive tube element found in certain ruminants, releasing lactic acid during the animal's digestion.

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