Recently I made spaghetti bolognaise and my friend leaned over and said, "Why don't you add feta to the sauce?"
"What?" I asked aghast. "Feta doesn't go with a bolognaise sauce. You'll have Italian mammas turning in their graves." Then my other friend piped up, "But it will still be nice."
Feta-tising every meal
You see it's not – NICE. But the average Jane and Joe has taken this white, noble, sheep or goat's milk cheese with 17th century roots and turned it into something – average, B-grade... nice.
I've become increasingly aware that people will donner feta cheese over just about anything. From a slice of toast with peanut butter (I kid you not) to any – and I mean any – salad. Not even a three-bean salad is safe from the floozy.
Somewhere someone must have said, "Let there be a cheese that goes with everything and let's call it – Feta." All hail feta! And the masses proceeded to stuff chickens with it, chuck it into soup and crumble it over any salad as a white salty top coat. Almost like a top coat of paint to cover the fact that what lies underneath might not be so fabulous.
And with the salty-cardboard-tasting-esque feta available in our local supermarkets, you're basically lacing your salad with some salty spongy thing with a floury crumbly texture. Yum!
I know we are all terribly broke and unimaginative in the kitchen this time of the month – but I am sure we can do better than feta-tising every meal.
Fairy dust for salads
A tub of feta isn't really that much cheaper than a wedge of mature cheddar or even a smaller block of a harder cheese that will do wonders as a 'top coat' on any salad or meal.
Or what about dukkah – dukkah what? It's an Egyptian dry mixture of spices, nuts and seeds, that works like fairy dust for salads. You can find it in most supermarkets – Woolies has two new ones out that you can toss over anything. It's just the kick up the cucumber your sad salad needs.
Next time you reach for that tub of feta out of horrible habit – just look around you. There are a bunch of foreign, exotic and flavourful ladies just waiting come home with you.
If you are a die hard feta fan at least try her Danish niece – creamy, soft and flavourful. Or what about an Italian? Why not try a Pecorino or Parmesan – these cheeses cost more but they last and a little goes a long way because one sliver is packed with the same flavour as half a wheel of feta. Even better be brave and buy Roquefort, Gorgonzola or Stilton – the smelly, blue cheese cousins. Or if your budget and taste buds are more conservative then at least by Bon Blanc – lovely white cheese or any cheddar with a bit of maturity. I promise you you'll taste the difference in your food.
Do you agree that feta is the floozy of the cheese world or are you feta-tiser?
Ilze Dreyer is the deputy editor of Food24 and has banned all salty-cardboard feta from her kitchen.