In trade talks with America, the European Union is throwing a big fit that genuine feta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Gorgonzola — their original Old World, OG cheeses — have to compete with American impostors, whose pre-grated bags and pre-sliced squares cut into their sales.
So far, the EU hasn’t laid out a proposal, but U.S. trade negotiators expect an exhaustive list with probably more than place-name cheeses, even including place-name non-cheeses (Valencia oranges, Black Forest ham, Greek yogurt), and non-place-name cheeses, like feta — because while there’s no Feta, Greece, the EU says its “so closely connected to Greece as to be identified as an inherently Greek product.” (Bulgarian fetas and others have seemingly been thrown under the D.O.P. bus.)
The EU has been similarly hard-assed elsewhere. Under its agreement with Canada, anything made domestically must be labeled “feta-style” or “feta-like,” the AP reports, and packaging cannot include Greek letters or, for that matter, anything else that evokes Greece.
U.S. lawmakers and dairy-makers say they won’t stand for it. While Kraft’s green cylinders of gloppy powder probably constitute crimes against Parmesan, banning Old World names will unfairly hurt “many small- or medium-sized family-owned businesses,” writes a group of senators captained by Chuck Schumer.
“Muenster is Muenster,” he wrote, “no matter how you slice it.”