You will find it in any major supermarket in Taiwan: provolone-style smoked cheese from Minas Gerais, Brazil (“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):
What you’re supposed to do with this precious cheese is to take advantage of its peculiar texture and shred it into long strands:
You can even buy it pre-shredded (notice the cow):
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.
While I prefer the traditional style, life does become easier if you imagine everyone as a cute and slightly dopey cartoon figure.
Happy Year of the Dragon!
7-Eleven gibt’s in Taiwan an fast jeder Ecke. Klein, aber äußerst nützlich.