Mato is fresh Spanish white cheese and it is a basic component of the Mediterranean diet, especially the diet of the Spanish people. It is listed as one of the great cheeses of Spain. This Mediterranean diet food is a white cheese is made of cows’ of goat’s milk and it is without salt. Mato is consumed fresh and it can be part of any meal and snack. It can be part of the Mediterranean diet breakfast or it can be used as an ingredient for a healthy low calorie Mediterranean diet dessert.
The Spanish cuisine and diet is divided into 4 culinary regions, the Northern, Eastern, Southern and Central. The Eastern culinary region is the Catalan region and it is admittedly, by all, as the region which has the healthiest diet in Spain which is nothing else than the Mediterranean diet. This is the area in which the Mato cheese is made and therefore we can call Mato cheese as the Catalonian cheese.
Mato cheese first appeared around the 14th century in the eastern Mediterranean part of Spain and became very popular in the middle ages in Europe. It is a soft white spreadable cheese whose texture can be thought as something between yogurt and cheese, close to the Italian ricotta cheese. It is unsalted, almost sweet, unfermented white cheese. In the farm it was coagulated using enzymes from a plant in the region, while now in the factories coagulation is achieved using calcium salts. Since it is fresh it can only be preserved for a short period after production.
Mato cheese has its own unique taste and texture but if it is to be compared with a more known cheese it can be thought as a cheese which is somewhat like cream cheese but unsalted and somewhat firmier. It is eaten pleasantly and it is good for patients who suffer chronic kidney diseases due to its composition and way it is produced. It is easy to digest and has high calcium concentration and low cholesterol.
Since Mató is part of the Mediterranean diet as a white cheese, it is certainly part of a typical Catalonian breakfast as it can be eaten as a spread on a toast accompanied by tomatoes.
Mato cheese can also be used in salads, the same way any goat cheese is used and in general it can gracefully replace in any recipe the French and Italian white cheeses. Even though Tapas was not a Catalan tradition, they have become popular over the years and they are served in many bars of the region that use various cheeses including the mato cheese.
However during the last few decades it was identified that Mato cheese can be an important component and ingredient of many type of fresh and healthy sweets. The old recipe of Mato with honey and nuts has been revived in many Spanish and French restaurants. Many restaurants across the US serve this fine and refined in taste combination, as a dessert usually accompanied with a sweet white wine, like the muscatel.
The dessert is known as ‘’Meli i Mató’’ and it very simple to make. Mato cheese, as a cheese belonging to the white cheese family is a basic component of the Mediterranean diet and certainly played and will continue to play an important role in the healthy living of the Catalonian people and the Spanish people in general.