You stroll through a market with a large variety of Mexican cheeses. You stumble upon Manchego cheese. Is it Spaniard or Mexican? You can find two different types of Manchego cheese in Mexico.
The Spaniard version is very popular in Mexico. Its name is a result of an adoption from the word “Manchego” meaning it’s originally from the “Mancha”region and that's how the very famous cheese got its name. On the other hand, this word in Mexico referres to a cheese “manchego style” that is already part of the gastronomic tradition of the country.
Manchego cheese from Spain is made with Manchego sheep milk, is protected by a denomination of the origin and has its special seal on its label that assures is the real one. This cheese has a hard crust and it is distinguished by the parallel lines caused by the twisted mold in which it's made. It has a firm and compact consistency. Though it has a buttery sensation it is not a cheese you can melt. Its color varies from a creamy clear to a yellowish ivory with a black line on the outside. This depends on the aging which can sometimes surpass eight months. It has a strong taste and somewhat acidic. It is best accompanied by red wine or figs, membrillo paste, a good piece of “jamón” and even anchovies over a piece of bread.
The Mexican version is made with a mix of cow and goat milk. The “manchegostyle” cheese has a creamy texture and is white in color. Perfect for melting! It has a strong odor like cheddar cheese and tastes almost like Colby cheese. It is usually used in quesadillas and queso fundido. It is also used in the traditional “molletes de Guadalajara”, that I enjoy so much, which consist of a toasted piece of bread, with melted cheese over red beans and in sometimes, chorizo with pico de gallo on top.
Now that you know the difference, don't confuse them. Choose the right one for every occasion because the wrong cheese can ruin your favorite recipe.