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Oaxaca cheese is getting the recognition it deserves

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Photo: Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez (Getty Images)

Quesadillas are likely your first venture into Mexican cheese, and they’re a fantastic way to start. A straight up cheese quesadilla with no other fillings is one that truly lets the cheese be the star of the show. But which type of cheese do you use? Well, Nation’s Restaurant News and market research firm Datassential report that Oaxaca cheese is having a moment.

Growing up, my grandma would usually put a slice of ham in my quesadillas, but the cheese was pretty much always Queso Chihuahua. Eventually, I started to wonder about the other Mexican cheeses out there, and I’m so glad I did. The texture of Oaxaca cheese is similar to string cheese, and it’s made by stretching and kneading pasteurized cow’s milk curd into long ropes that are then formed into a ball. These qualities make it great for melting.

The popular Oaxaca cheese-filled item people are especially loving these days is quesabirria. Quesabirria tacos are a cheese-smothered taco filled with beautifully cooked goat’s meat. This particular form of tacos is made extra special not only by the combination of stretchy cheese and flavorful meat, but also by the delicious broth that the meat is often soaked in. Datassential reported mentions of Oaxaca cheese on restaurant menus has increased by 48% over the past four years, and around 27% of the population is familiar with this type of cheese.

While I’m glad people are loving and appreciating Mexican foods, it’s always important to remember that this is just a new twist on an already delicious cuisine. Just the thought of quesabirria might make you drool, but if you want a more direct introduction to Mexican cheese I highly recommend a quesadilla taste test. Let the cheese shine, and then you can better appreciate the way it works so well with others.

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