Cheese is delicious. It’s one of nature’s greatest gifts, we think. Cheese fills everyone’s heart with happiness, your mouth will delightedness, and your soul with goodness. That’s probably one of the reasons you’re likely to find at your local Mexican grill hard-working, dedicated employees banded together in the kitchen to hand-grate piles of fresh, delicious, nutritious cotija cheese. Mounds of it! Mountains of it, even.

At the Mexican grill they grate enough cotija cheese to make the Pied Piper lose control of his mice. And the Pied Piper isn’t going to let those mice eat all his cheese. Why? Not just because of the previously noted superior qualities of cheese, though that clearly has quite a lot to do with it. But the real reason that cotija cheese is a beloved staple at the Mexican grill is because cotija is among the greatest possible of all cheeses.

We know that’s a bold statement. It’s hard to take at face value when there are so many other cheeses available, in all kinds of cultures and all kinds of food. Even Mexican grill food occasionally embraces other kinds of cheese, though we suspect it’s a slightly begrudging kind of foray into the world of cheeses that aren’t the beauty and perfection that cotija is more than happy to bring to the table.

So why is cotija the most superior of cheeses? Why does “the Parmesan of Mexico” (but so much better than Parm in our opinion!) have it going on?

Cotija is a salty, crumbly, ridiculously tasty milk cow cheese name after the town Cotija in Mexico. It’s a classic south-of-the-border ingredient, beloved for its tangy zip and unique texture. It’s known as el queso de montaƱa, or mountain cheese, because its makers live and cheese it up high in the mountains. And that’s where it gets its flavor and color, too-the milk that makes cotija comes straight to us from cows that have been munching on the rich mountain grass that only grows during the short rainy season.

It’s strongly flavored, great for grating, and found on so many Mexican grill dishes (as is proper). From salads to soups, tacos to tostadas, it’s all enhanced by cotija magic. Best of all, and maybe why the Pied Piper the stamina to keep chasing mice, cotija cheese is so much more than just great-tasting: It’s good for you, too.

Like most dairy products, cotija a great source of the protein we need to build the tissue of our heart and other muscles and stay healthy. Just one-ounce serving gives you 7 grams of protein, or a whopping 14 percent of your daily recommended amount of protein. Even better, cotija has got plenty of bone-building calcium. And if you’re diabetic or on one of those low-carb diets, it’s important to note that cotija is also low in carbs. So get behind the Piper in line at your nearest Mexican grill to enjoy how cotija can pack a real punch to your tastebuds.

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