Monday, 2 August 2010


There's an entry on designer chairs coming soon, but I still have to source one of the photos so for now, a rant about halloumi cheese. Or more broadly, our traditional ways of naming food products is completely bent out of shape.

I love halloumi. As a vegetarian (who doesn't think about rennet very much), it makes a great meat substitute when preparing some middle eastern and mediterranean stew-type dishes, and it is of course wonderful instead of meat in a burger (a la Nandos). However, two bad experiences with unfamiliar Halloumi cultures have led me to be more wary of this delicious food than I would like to be.

Specifically, I like Halloumi because it doesn't melt, so you can fry it, and it tastes salty, so you can use it like chicken. When fried it has a caramelised crispy outer layer and a soft, melt-in-the-mouth inner core. I think many people would agree that this is Halloumi at its best.

It turns out that some people consider Halloumi to have some other place in the culinary world apart from satiating vegetarians. Example number one: I went to a gourmet cheese shop in Cambridge, bought their Halloumi, and got home to find it crumbly and smelly, rather than bouncy and salty. I was appalled, it ruined my meal, and as far as I am concerned anything that ruins a meal of mine is truly evil.

Example number two is photographed above. This Halloumi was bought in Israel, so it is perhaps surprising to learn that it has no chutzpah or sense of survival. Almost immediately upon impact with the pan it melted into a soupy, sticky mess, like any other cheese would. I simply cannot see the point in Halloumi if it's going to behave like all the other cheeses. It's not like the other cheeses, it's better than them, that's the point! What happened to you Halloumi, you used to be cool.

If the word, 'Halloumi,' doesn't actually always mean, 'bouncy in the mouth, solid in the pan,' then personally I need cheeses to be renamed to avoid confusion. I would happily buy, 'Bouncy solid' cheese and use it in the same way whether it is Halloumi or Paneer, I probably wouldn't buy, 'Salty melty' at all ever whether it was Halloumi or cheddar or whatever else, and if I did buy, 'Crumbly smelly,' I would know better than to put it in a tagine. Screw these fancy foreign names for foreign cheeses. I want them translated into a language I understand.


  1. I can sympathise with this. After a bad experience, I had to rename Gouda "violent nausea and irrational prejudice against all Dutch cheeses," which isn't a very snappy epithet.

  2. Mark, you are brilliant :)