The Delicious Origins of Fried Cheese

Written by Phin Upham

Though chain restaurants like Olive Garden have popularized the idea, not a single one is the true originator of fried cheese. Although, it’s next to impossible to find the true creator. The name is lost to history, but the act of breading and frying cheese is fortunately still alive and well. Today, we primarily bread mozzarella cheese, but it appears this was not always the cheese of choice. Historians note that fried cheese is similar in preparation to a cheese fondue, so there may be some French influence on this delectable dish.

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The medieval Europeans were the first to popularize fried cheese, called “pipefarces” back then. These dishes were on the sweet side, where as concoctions today are considered primarily savory fare. Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands joined England as the first countries to begin experimenting with serving cheese to patrons.

A recipe dating back to the 1400s talks about how to find good cheese for frying: cheese must not be “obviously aged or obviously fresh.” The cheese is put into a pan with a small bit of butter or cooking fat, then cooked until tender. They are removed immediately, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar to be served.

An American recipe from the early 1900s calls for cheese with diced parsley and a touch of cayenne. Onion juice is also added for flavor before the cheese is molded into balls and fried, using a seasoned combination of egg and bread crumbs.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham.