The true reason Taiwan imports cheese from Brazil

You will find it in any major supermarket in Taiwan: provolone-style smoked cheese from Minas Gerais, Brazil (“queijo tipo provolone fresco defumado”):
queijo tipo provolone fresco defumado

Given that Brazil is literally at the other end of the world and not exactly known for its cheese, you might be wondering what makes this cheese so special.

The answer is: it can be made to look like dried shredded squid (do a google image search).

I’m not kidding. Of course, if you cut the cheese normally, it looks just like you’d expect (I don’t recommend doing this in front of your Taiwanese in-laws):
Cheese cut normally

What you’re supposed to do with this precious cheese is to take advantage of its peculiar texture and shred it into long strands:
Shredded cheese

You can even buy it pre-shredded (notice the cow):
Pre-shredded cheese

As to why anyone would do that: a large percentage (around 10%) of the Taiwanese are vegetarians and some of them like to have vegetarian replacements for traditional dishes (everything on the 3rd picture is meat-free). Somehow, someone must have figured out that this type of Brazilian cheese can be shredded just like dried squid.

I’m wondering if the Brazilian cheese makers know why their product is so popular in Taiwan.

5 responses to “The true reason Taiwan imports cheese from Brazil”

  1. Hi,

    I am in Taipei now but i can’t seem to find it anywhere. May I know which supermarket did you go ?

    • I’m in Kaohsiung, and just picked some up again at the ” pineapple store” AKA cookbox(旺來興).

      I don’t know if they have that up north?

      I bought it outta curiosity a few years ago, googled it when i got home and found this page. I was at a vegetarian wedding dinner last week, and it was in one of the dishes, and the restaurant was also selling it in bags at the counter, shredded like squid, which reminded of this page!
      I eat it like halloumi, grilled or fried served with cold cut meat..not very often though…….

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