Cheese is incredibly different here in Romania in comparison to the UK. Fresh cheese here is known as brânză – it’s white in colour and its texture is soft and crumbly (not unlike Greek Feta). Brânză can be sweet or salty and is used in many ways for lots of different dishes. It is usually made in the countryside by people who own farms, then brought to cities to be sold at markets. The smell of the ‘cheese section’ of the market always surprises me. It isn’t the normal cheese smell that you experience if you were stood by a cheese counter in an English shop – it is an incredibly sour and pungent smell that really hits you. For cheese that makes such a pong, the flavour is actually quite mild – it is very creamy and doesn’t have a typically cheesy taste but more of a gentle sour taste. Also, when you heat it, it does not melt as readily as you would expect a cheese to melt.
Most blocks of cheese that you find in supermarkets here are not considered to be real cheese by locals. It is known as cașcaval – yellow in colour, hard or rubbery in texture and very similar in appearance to what you see in English shops. The taste is very mild and not intense at all – in fact, the flavour is almost non existent.
So cheese is quite interesting here, I am yet to discover one that has a truly strong cheesy taste like that of a good old block of English Cheddar.