I’m a fan of spreadable cheeses, making a point to seek them out whenever visiting an ethnic neighborhood or store. But my streak of uneventful spreadable cheese purchases came to a halt at Fertile Crescent at 570 Atlantic Avenue the other day. This “Primo Spicy Aged Egyptian Cheese” was in the dairy case of go-to spot for tahini, pomegranate molasses and shea butter. At only $2.95 and made with fermented cheese, ghee, cumin, salt, and pepper it sounded like an interesting option.
After plopping down the item for purchase their was a brief pause, followed by the cashier saying “I don’t think you will like this cheese. This is Egyptian. You will find it too salty.” Having never been refused purchase of anything anywhere, it felt a bit like a challenge. He conferred with the owner and produced a straw with some to try. It was salty (maybe double the amount in feta) but also pleasantly smoky and spicy. I learned that this type of fermented, aged cheese is called mish and is meant to be consumed in conjunction with other things.
After confirming my desire to purchase it, the otherwise serious Egpytian proprietors began to whip out suggestions to maximize the mish experience. The store owner suggested having it with tomatoes! And also oil! Another equally forceful Egyptian man, not affiliated with the store said tahini is best. Thankful for the input and a little taken aback by all the help, I headed home post-purchase.
It spread well on pita. With olive oil the mish’s creaminess really sings. The cumin provides smokiness and the pepper the slightest heat. With oil and tahini, the contrasting textures and flavors make it even more satisfying. Unfortunately, it’s not time for good tomatoes yet, so that suggestion has so far gone untested.
This spreadable cheese is fantastic because of the Fertile Crescent team’s suggestions. By itself, for most American palates it would be too salty. If no one manages to talk you out of it, mish is worth trying out in conjunction with tahini and oil. Have you tried this treat before?
The Global Recipe Project at crowdedearthkitchen.com is seeking authentic Egyptian recipes. I hope you will consider participating! 🙂