“When I was a child, I remember how cheese was made in a large cauldron, in a water bath and how I liked to cut the curd with a metal ruler,” recalls María Dolores Pérez-Guzmán Palomares. She is the fifth generation in her family to preserve Manchego sheep’s milk cheesemaking traditions started by her great grandmother in 1896 in the Castilla La Mancha region of Spain.
Manchego–officially called Queso Manchego–can only be called such if it is made in Castilla La Mancha with milk from the La Mancha breed of sheep autochthonous–or, indigenous–to that region. The Manchego designation is protected under Spain’s regulatory classification system and granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)–or in Spanish, Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP)–status by the European Union. Pasamontes has been a consistent DOP winner including the 2012 Gold Medal for their Manchego Artesano DOP Semicurado.
María Dolores continues recounting her childhood memories of cheese making: “The water was heated for the water bath over the fire in a fireplace. Every time the cheese was made, the children– my brothers and my cousins [and I]–would stand around to see how it was made,” she says, then adds, “The truth is that we bothered and sometimes they threw us out!”
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