Cheeses around the world

Though perhaps not as well-known a fact as wine or beer origin, cheese too is distinctive by country.

The French, of course, are known for producing and consuming a large amount and variety of cheeses. Roquefort and Brie are household names, even though their places of origin may not be known to many. The cheeses are named after towns of the same name. Yet, the French are neither the largest producers, exporters, nor consumers of cheese.

The largest producer is, not surprisingly, the U.S., which makes over 4.3 million metric tons per year. The largest exporter is Germany though France exports more by monetary value. But the largest consumer prize goes to... Greece. The average Greek consumes over 27kg (59 lbs) per person per year.

But quantity isn't the only, nor perhaps the best, criteria for judging cheese by country. All the great names of cheese share equally in being fine producers.

The Swiss have their Emmentaler and Gruyère better known in the U.S. as simply 'Swiss cheese', the English their Cheddars after a town in England, but now among cheese professionals a method of cutting. The Greek's are well known for a great goat's milk cheese and also Feta, which is made from sheep's milk.

The Germans, though their products' names - Harz and Mainze - may be less well-known, are in the top echelon. Not only do they produce 1.9 million metric tons per year second only to the U.S., and export huge quantities (2.4 million tons), but they are the largest importer as well. Apparently, Germans simply can not get enough of fine cheese.