About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Awesome Historic Cheese: Halloumi

It's spelled with one 'l' in places like Australia, because they have their own wacky version of English called we-never-really-learned English.  I lived in Sydney for a while teaching them modern concepts like databases and the wheel, so I also know that Australians are really sure they have great cheeses, but have only one kind of native cheese, elaborately named - I kid you not - Tasty Cheese.  Unfortunately, in we-never-really-learned English, "Tasty" means "what the hell is this crap", resulting in blokes from out of the country being woefully confuzzled.

Still, when they aren't busy laughing at all the tourists who are trying not to gag on the local cheese, a lot of Australians are busy chowing down on yummy foreign cheeses.  Halloumi is a great example of something I first sampled in Australia, and now I can't live without it.  Also, I sincerely believe gamers everywhere would appreciate this cheese.


For starters, its melting point is so high that you can grill it.  It's like fried cheese sticks but from a grill instead - yum!

χαλούμι, cooked ancient style
Second, it has its own campaign backstory!  Halloumi is considered in the USA to be solely the province of Cyprus - because they paid us to say that - but it probably originated as far back as Ancient Egypt.  The techniques of Halloumi-making were handed down from generation to generation, and batches were made in cooperatives with community milk under the supervision of a woman called the galatarka.  Making this cheese was an imminently social activity - much like throwing dice is now.  Imagine folks sitting around a table telling stories and making cheese... feel any kinship yet?

It was great on military campaigns, too.  At some point it was discovered that wrapping Halloumi in mint preserved it - allowing it to be taken with troops over long distances and eaten as part of rations.  That's why you see little green flecks in a lot of Halloumi packaging these days - it's mint.

So basically, if you eat some Halloumi while roleplaying a great adventure, you're closer to simulationism than you might realize.

The Recipe

The best way to cook Halloumi is simple.  Put a little EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in a skillet and heat it up on medium-high.  Throw in pieces of Halloumi not more than a half inch thick and saute till slightly browned.  Serve it on a bed of arugula (Aussies: this is called "rocket" in we-never-really-learned English).  Add some sun-dried tomatoes and squeeze some fresh lemon all over the whole plate.


  1. It is entertaining that they get confused as to why US cheese is yellow. American Cheddar is a specialty cheese only sold on rare occasions.

    Also cheese from a can horrifies them, and to tell the truth, now that I am older, it does me too. ;-)

  2. I find your comments regarding Australia incredibly insulting and true.

    And if this cheese is so great, why wasn't it mentioned in the Cheese Shop sketch?

    *plans a fondue party for this weekend*


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