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Food by VICE

Manchego Is the Product of a Sheep's Wet Dream

The fabled territory of La Mancha, Spain is not just the home of a psychedelic voyager and a bunch of windmills. Manchego, one of the most sought after sheep's cheeses in the world, comes from the wet dreams of wooly creatures that roam the hills of...

by Charlotte Kamin
Oct 6 2014, 8:38pm

Sometimes there is a cheese out there that is so well-known by name that one day celebrities will pop out babies and call them Appenzeller or Comte. Manchego is one of those cheeses. Sorry, next generation: You're already screwed by those who came before you, so why not fuck with your self-identity too?

Manchego is a sheep's milk cheese that hails from La Mancha, Spain. This fabled territory is not just the home of a psychedelic voyager and a bunch of windmills. It's the birthplace of one of the most sought-after sheep's cheeses in the world. And, of course, there is a disproportionate amount of industrially produced versions that taste like wax made from wool. However, there are still a handful of true farmstead producers, and those are the real heroes I shall speak of here.

Manchego is a name protected cheese which means it must:

-Be made from whole milk from Manchega breed sheep who are raised in the region.

-It has to have been produced within La Mancha.

-If it's younger than 60 days, it's not Manchego.

Back in the day, Manchego was made exclusively from the Manchegra Negra sheep by the women of the villages. But, as with most things they do, men stepped in and started fucking everything up with their need make things faster. That's when the introduction of the crappy, Velveeta versions began. The classic grass weave engraved on the rind used to come from grass baskets that the cheese would have been formed in. Now it's a pretty decoration, not unlike a spray tan or full sleeve tribal tattoo; it's kind of pointless and a bit disappointing. La Mancha has a rich history of animal rearing that dates back to before the Moors held the land. The area is also situated on a high plateau of grasslands, so the soil is super rich in nutrients and affected by the hot summers and cold winters.

All this makes for a great history of an incredible cheese that you can still find really good versions of and not cling to the fantasy of what they once were. This is not unlike certain celebrity babies names. FULL CIRCLE.

Now, go to a cheese shop and ask for a taste of the real farmstead Manchego. You will not be disappointed. But if you are, please feel free to leave a comment here and I'm sure someone who gives a shit will agree with you. Thanks for your time. Go enjoy life.