Just try telling Citarella, Zabar’s, or Murray’s Cheese to take those ‘French feta’ and ‘Danish feta’ labels off their faux-feta products. Either they won’t know what you’re talking about when you say that feta is an “EU protected designation of origin product of Greece since 2002,” or they’ll just shrug and say they can call it whatever they want, that ‘feta is feta’ no matter where it’s made or what kind of milk it’s made from.
But that’s the crucial point. Real feta is a brined cheese (to Greeks it isn’t a cheese though, it’s ‘feta’) sourced from within Greece. It must be made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s milk and 30% goat’s milk. No cows involved.
Pay attention: No matter how wonderful or bubbly the prosecco and other sparkling wines from various places are, don’t call them champagne. Champagne is champagne only when it comes from France’s Champagne region. Like feta, it’s a designated origin product.
Every region, every village, and to take it even further, sometimes every household in Greece turns out its own, subtly nuanced, lightly-creviced, crumbly yet smooth, salty but not too salty, fresh, cool, white-as-snow version of that wonderful invention. Or is it a discovery? No matter. Feta is an act of God. Let’s leave it to the Greeks.
—Vicki James Yiannias