Winner of the James Beard/ KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year 2000 and Winner of the Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food 2000.
November 27, 2022
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Mangia Bene

        Feta cheese, the quintessential Greek brined cheese, may have originally been Italian. The word does not exist in classical Greek; it is a New Greek word, originally tyripheta, or "cheese slice," the word feta coming from the Italian word fette, meaning a slice of food. Although cheeses are mentioned frequently in the writings of the ancient Greeks, it is never clear what kind of cheese they are talking about. The description of cheese making in Homer's Odyssey (Book 9: 278-79) sounds more like the Sicilian cheeses known as tuma or canestrato than it does a brined cheese like feta. In the anonymous fourteenth-century Venetian cookbook, the Libro per cuoco, there are two recipes that call for formazo di Candia, a cheese made on the then Venetian island of Crete, that may be the first feta cheese. One recipe specifically calls for the cheese to be washed, as you would feta.