• 3 April 2014

Europeans have a thing for cheese. And why not? Some of the best cheese-producing countries in the world can be found in Europe, including France (of course), Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain and the Netherlands. Read on to find out more about cheese and the best places to try it on our Europe coach tours.

Gouda cheese wheels

What is cheese and how is it made?

Cheese is derived from milk, and is produced by coagulating a protein in milk called casein. Usually made from cow, goat, sheep or even buffalo milk (not to mention reindeer, camel and yak in some places), the milk is acidified before adding rennet (an enzyme) which causes it to coagulate. The solids are then separated and pressed. And voila – cheese!

There is archaeological evidence to suggest that cheese has been around since around 5500 BCE, and it’s possible that it was discovered by accident as early as 8000 BCE when sheep and cows were first domesticated. Storing milk in a container made from the stomach of an animal may have led to the milk being turned to curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach. Imagine the delight when cheese was found!

Cheese market in Paris, France

These days of course there are literally hundreds of different types of cheese – cheese.com lists 690 different types – everything from Cheddar to Crottin de Chevignol (a rare French cheese made from the milk of alpine goats).

Our Europe coach tours stop off in some prime cheese-producing regions – including France, Italy, The Netherlands and Switzerland! Some of the most famous cheeses you’ll taste include varieties like Brie, Camembert, Roquefort (France) Pecorino, Parmesan, Ricotta, Mozzarella (Italy), Gouda (The Netherlands), Stilton, Cheddar, Red Leicester (Great Britain) and Emmental (Switzerland). But keep your eyes open – there are so many different types to try!

Top tip: On our tours that visit The Netherlands, you’ll see a traditional cheese-making demonstration!

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