We’re not here to knock everyone’s favorite lunchbox treat. And if you think we’re talking about an apple or crustless bologna sandwich, you’re sorely mistaken. String cheese, next to Little Debbie anything, is obviously the most exciting thing to happen in a cafeteria since Pizza Party Fridays. Not only is the snack delicious (because #cheese, duh), but it’s also interactive, making it a fun and healthy indulgence that you can savor with every bite.
While most of us are familiar with the standard mozzarella variety, we’d be remiss to not discuss an international option that, quite frankly, may even trump our tried-and-true stick of choice. Armenian string cheese, otherwise known as braided cheese, is the Middle Eastern specialty you never knew you needed in your life. In fact, we’ve rounded up six reasons why you should kick that Kraft habit to the curb and, perhaps, bid adieu to it forever.
1. It’s bigger. Bigger isn’t always better, but this certainly doesn’t apply to the world of food. We’ve never met a block of cheese we couldn’t finish, and the same can be applied to the dairy product in braid form. Bring on the cheese, please. And plenty of it.
2. It’s a knot that turns into a bunch of strings. Remember how much fun it would be to find a toy at the bottom of your cereal box? This is kind of the same situation (except not really, but it’s a Wednesday, so bear with us.). What starts as a knot can actually be separated and split into dozens and dozens of edible strings. It’s essentially a gift within a gift, a meal within a meal. Sure, you don’t get a trading card or mini action figure at the end, but the eating process is uber entertaining.
3. Its taste is more buttery and velvety. Mass-manufactured American lines of string cheese can result in a rubbery consistency with a bland, one-noted flavor. Since Armenian cheese typically sits in a brine of saltwater to preserve its moisture and taste, this is never an issue. Hooray for food without artificial ingredients or preservatives.
4. Its flavor is more exotic. No strawberry string cheese here (yes, that’s a thing). Middle Eastern flavors of mahleb (ground cherry seed kernels with a taste similar to marzipan) and nigella seeds (black cumin) are folded into the elastic curds for a savory and exotic feasting experience. If you’re going the more traditional route, opt for a cheese made with sheep or goat’s milk for a sharper taste that better complements the spices.
5. It’s prettier. We don’t mean to be superficial, but a braid is prettier than a skinny block that resembles a slightly longer Jenga piece. Seeing is half of what makes eating appealing, and this beauty certainly plays upon all of the senses.
6. It’s more fun to tear apart. It may be more of an effort, but Armenian string cheese is actually more entertaining to pull apart. First, run the cheese under cold water (not hot, unless you enjoy mush). This also helps to remove the saltiness of the liquid its been sitting it. Next, tear the cheese into different sections, almost as if you’re ripping a loaf of bread. From there, you can go to town, finger and thumb, pulling and noshing on as many long strands as your heart desires.
Header image courtesy of Sun-Ni.