This is the last week of Carnival before the Greek Orthodox fasting period of Easter Lent begins. It’s also known as “Tyrini” the week of cheese, and it’s marked by delicious, but meatless, dishes that end with a big family meal on Sunday night.
On Cheese Sunday, households traditionally make all sorts of cheese pies and other types of pasta dishes with cheese and butter. It’s the last big indulgence before a 40 day period of abstention from all animal products, which many people still follow in Greece and the Diaspora.
Greece produces a lot of cheese, at least 70 different regional kinds. They fall into several broad categories, such as brine cheeses; naturally fermented soft, sour cheeses; yellow cheeses; goat’s, sheep’s, and cow’s milk cheeses. Each region of Greece has its own kind of cheese preference however the most popular seems to be Feta, Kefalograviera, Kaseri and Mizithra.
Cheese is also used in many popular Greek cheeses, including pastitso, prawn saganaki, and spanakopita. Greeks are actually known as being amongst the greatest consumers of cheese in Europe.