Hispanic cheeses are different from American or European cheeses. They look, cook, and taste different. The most popular varieties of Hispanic cheese are fresh, white cheeses with names like "Queso Blanco" or "Queso Fresco". These cheeses all share similar make procedures and have similar eating and cooking characteristics.Fresh Hispanic cheeses are mild tasting and crumbly. They are often eaten as snacks with tropical fruits (this is the Latin version of our U.S. treat of eating aged cheddar cheese with pieces of fresh apple). Fresh Hispanic cheeses are most often used as an ingredient--either crumbled onto a salad or cooked as part of a hot dish.The key to understanding "fresh" Hispanic cheeses is understanding that they do not melt. When heated these fresh cheeses become warm and soft but do not lose their shape or run.
The second major group of Hispanic cheeses are melting cheeses. These cheeses have names like "Queso Quesadilla". Hispanic melting cheeses are generally mild tasting and smooth textured. They are often eaten as a snack right out of the package. Usually, as their name suggests, they are melted in hot dishes. Hispanic melting cheeses, unlike common U.S. cheeses such as cheddar, do not seperate into oil and solids when they are heated. Consequently they make dishes like pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, and cheese burgers more "cheesy" and less greasy. Of course they are invaluable in preparing Mexican dishes such as quesadillas and tacos. Use of Hispanic melting cheeses like Queso Quesadilla in popular dishes like quesadillas or nachos greatly increases the finished dishes' appeal. The diner is presented a plate with more cheese in the right place--on the tortilla or the chips--and less greasy oil all over the plate!