The History of Titilla Cheese
Many cheese lovers may not be aware of the incredible diversity of cheese in Spain. When asked about Spanish cheese, the conversation usually ends at Manchego (sheep).The graphic at right shows some of this diversity
In Spain I found very few herds of cows. They seem mostly to be on the islands off the coast and in the wet pastures of Galacia in the north west. I have no idea where all of the milk comes from in the markets but Spain is primarily goat and sheep for cheese making.
The smaller herds of sheep/goat really go back to the time the North African Moors held control in Spain and for a good part, their presence as far north as the Loire river in central France. They brought their herds into Spain soon after they settled there and as of today the animals are still there.
The goat and sheep were particularly efficient at grazing in the arid lowlands as well as the rugged mountains of Spain.
Galacia sits at the top of Spain in the north western corner where the mountains meet the sea. So, as expected, it is very lush with green pastures and hence perfect for the larger bovines. So it makes sense that one their most famous cheeses are from cows milk.
The cheese are unique in shape resembling a slightly deformed upside down cone and in the case of the 'Tetilla' with its flatter squished down profile, a small breast, hence the name.
Traditionally these cheeses were drained in cloth bags that took on the tear drop shape as seen in the photo below right. Then due to their soft nature they flattened out and slumped into their shape, especially the Tetilla which was a bit higher moisture. In some cases these took on the shape of a flatish dome with very little shape. The moister they were though, the fresher they needed to be consumed.
The traditional cheese were simply drained in cloth bags but quickly lost their shape for a more fun and organic shape. The cloth bags are what originally gave the cheese its shape as you can see in the tear drops shaped draining cheese.