Culinary Theology on the Road: The Cheese of Metsovo

I had driven through the Pindus mountains some years earlier and had come across a picturesque village situated in a high pass. At once I fell in love with Metsovo. I was amazed by the slate roofed buildings, the wood products turned by hand on a lathe and traditionally dressed men and women, vestiges of Vlach life thriving in modern day Greece. But what I truly admired was the cheese of Metsovo or Metsovone as it is called. Metsovone is a semi hard to hard smoked cheese made from cow and sheep’s milk (up to 20%). It is aged for not less than 3 months and smoked for one to two days over local wood.

So after 3 years I finally returned to Metsovo with my family to once again partake of this special hand moulded cheese. The thermometer in my car said it was 5 degrees celsius outside, and when I stepped out I was accosted by intoxicating smells of olive and alder woodsmoke in the air. It was not hard to imagine where the inspiration for Metsovone came from. In need of a coffee and cheese we headed to the local square in search of a Kafeneon and a cheese purveyor. As we were sitting enjoying our coffee, a marching band with a parade of people in full traditional costume appeared as if out of the smoke and mist. With the innocent ignorance that only a foreigner could have, we asked our server what the celebration was for. We were informed that on that day October 31, ninety years earlier, the residents of Metsovo were liberated from Ottoman rule and gained their independence. What a day to visit Metsovo.

A traditional slate roof

The birthplace of Metsovone

The grounds of the local church

Enjoying a cup of coffee in the sunshine

A celebratory parade

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