Joining over 600 other location-protected products, Halloumi is now recognized by the EU as a Protected Designation of Origin cheese. Their application, submitted last year, was delayed for years due to disputes over the milk sourcing. Though Halloumi historically was made with goat’s or sheep’s milk, over the years cow’s milk gained prevalence as it became the cheaper and more available option. Curiously, it seems like cheesemakers were the ones most riled up about sheep’s and goat’s milk requirements after becoming so accustomed to using cow’s milk. Many of them would have preferred to make non-PDO Halloumi without having to deal with higher standards of production.
This move has geopolitical implications, too. (When does cheese not have geopolitical implications nowadays?) The island of Cyprus is divided ethnically between Greeks and Turks, but reunification has been a long goal. In fact, UN peacekeepers have been on the island since the Turkish invasion 40 years ago, making it one of the longest UN peacekeeping projects in history. Currently, Nicosia is the only divided capital city in Europe. Newly PDO Halloumi is allowed to come from both sides of the island, and the Greek and Turkish iterations (including spellings) are equally valid. As much as a cheese could be, Halloumi is a force for a united Cyprus.
This news couldn’t come at a better time for cheese fans. Halloumi’s high melting point makes it a summer staple—you can take it with you and not worry about sudden goo-ification of your cheese. It also means you can throw it on the grill if you are having a cookout! Deliciously salty, it will go well in a salad, sandwich, with white wine, or on its lonesome. Try these Halloumi Kebabs for a “meaty” vegetarian barbecue, or class it up with this recipe for Seared Halloumi with Dates, Orange, and Pomegranate.