History of Feta – Greek City Times
The history of cheese is as old as humanity itself and is linked to the taming of domestic animals 10,000 years ago. The roots of cheese making are not known for sure. However, it is believed that the cheese was first produced around 8,000 years ago. It is very likely that its discovery was quite accidental, during the transport of milk in the stomachs of young animals.
To the modern consumer, the word Feta means cheese in brine, produced in Greece, using specific technology from sheep’s and goat’s milk. According to Greek mythology, the gods sent Aristaios, son of Apollo, to teach the Greeks the art of cheese making.
There are many documents regarding the production and consumption of cheese in ancient Greece, from Aristotle, Pythagoras and other writers of ancient comedy. We have known this at least since the time of Homer. The cheese which was prepared by Cyclops Polyfimos and described in the 8th century BC in Homer’s Odyssey is considered the ancestor of Feta:
“We entered the cave, but he wasn’t there, only his plump sheep were grazing in the meadow. The woven baskets were full of cheese, the folds were full of sheep and goats, and all his pots, tubs and churns where he pumped milk were full of whey. When half of the snow-white milk curdled, he picked it up, put it in the woven baskets, and kept the other half in a tub to drink. Why are you my good ram the last to leave the fold? You have never been forsaken by the herd before. You always walked first to graze on the tender leaves of grass.
According to the myth, the Cyclops Polyfimos was the first to prepare cheese. As he carried the milk he collected to his sheep in skin sacks made from animal stomachs, he found to his surprise one day that the milk had curdled and had taken on a solid, tasty and storable form.
In the Delphi museum, there is a statuette from the 6th century BC. AD which represents the exit of Odysseus hanged under the favorite ram of the Cyclops. 8,000 years later, the way Feta is produced remains pretty much the same, differing only in areas like automation and packaging.
The ancient Greeks called the product which emanated from the coagulation of milk “cheese”. The name Feta, which literally means ‘slice’, originates in the 17th century and likely refers to the practice of slicing cheese for placing in barrels, a tradition still practiced today. The name Feta prevailed in the 19th century and since then has characterized a cheese that has been prepared for centuries using the same general technique and whose origin has been lost in time.
In the 20th century, the massive immigration of Greeks to various countries took place mainly to Australia, the United States, Canada and Germany.
As a result, many Greek communities were formed abroad, whose members largely maintained their eating habits. Thus, new markets were created for Feta cheese in different parts of the world, resulting in the growth of the international trade of Feta.
Really celebrated is Greek
The European Commission has instituted the protection of the geographical origin of various products, through their qualification as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) products.
In today’s era of globalization, safeguarding original names and the right to use them against producers providing knockoffs to markets is not an easy process. To the extent that a specific product is linked in the minds of consumers to a place of specific name, such that a mere mention of the name of the product immediately recalls its place of production, it is fair and in accordance with international treaties of protect its original name.
Initially, Feta was established in accordance with Regulation 1107/96 as a Protected Designation of Origin product on the basis of the terms defined by EU Regulation 2081/92 regarding the conditions for a product to qualify. as such. However, some Member States have appealed to the European Court for the annulment of this decision. Their position was that the name Feta had become mainstream. The European Court has decided to partially annul Regulation 1107/96, removing the name Feta from the register of protected geographical indications. The idea behind this decision was that when establishing Feta in PDO, the Commission had not taken into account the analysis of the situation in other Member States regarding the documentation of the authenticity of its origin. .
After a thorough analysis of the situation in the Member States, from which it was revealed that the origin of Feta is indeed Greek, and after a recommendation from a Scientific Commission, the Commission suggested the re-registration of Feta in rule (ΕC) 1107/96. The name Feta was reintroduced into the PDO register with Commission Decision (EC) 1829/2002 in October 2002.