Quark, quark, quark.* Say it out loud. It’s a fun word to say, isn’t it? Luckily for me, I get to say “quark” all day when chatting with curious customers.
There’s been a lot of great press about our quark cheese, but I’d like to delve deeper into the history of this tasty cheese. Let’s review what we know so far.
Quark is a European style, fresh, mild cheese with great versatility. It spreads nicely with a texture similar to whipped butter. It can be used in recipes that call for cream cheese, sour cream, or ricotta. It’s popular in regions of central Europe and used very much the way that American use cream cheese (cake, pastries, a base for dips, etc). It’s pretty darn delicious too.
But why on earth is it called “Quark”? Before Clock Shadow Creamery opened, I was only familiar with two quarks: the subatomic particles (which are, oddly enough, classified by flavors**), and the computer program QuarkExpress. Naturally, since the cheese has been around a lot longer than computer programs and particle physics, I had to do some research to learn the origin of the name.
“Quark” is the German word for curd. It should be noted at this point that Germans obviously view their cheese curds very differently than we do (because I’d bet anything that you thought of squeaky cheddar cheese as soon as you read “cheese curds”). In Germany, you can find several varieties of quark: Magerquark (lean quark, virtually fat-free), “regular” quark (20% fat) and Sahnequark (creamy quark, 40% fat) with added cream. The quark that we make here at Clock Shadow Creamery is closest to “regular” quark.
While we here at Clock Shadow use the German word for curd, Quark is known by many other names across Europe. The Dutch use the word kwark, Denmark prefers kvark, and Norway & Sweden refer to it as kvarg. In Eastern European countries where Slavic languages are spoken, they refer to it as twaróg (or a variation of that word, such as twaroh). But no matter the name, this cheese is a staple food in these regions in Europe. Quark is a staple food in European households the same way that cream cheese or butter is a staple in American homes.
Considering how popular Quark is in Europe, we at Clock Shadow Creamery hope to introduce it to a whole new audience who is ready to embrace this versatile and delicious cheese. Swing by the shop, taste some samples, and then take some home and let the creativity flow. For inspiration, check out our page of Quark Recipes . More will be coming soon, I promise!
*Recently, Head Cheese Bob had the pleasure of giving a tour to a group of kids from a local elementary school. While on our rooftop garden, he told me that he wished that he had brought his camera so that he could get video of the group of kids “quarking” like ducks. I am beyond disappointed that this didn’t happen. 🙁
**Now knowing that subatomic quarks are classified by flavor, I am not so secretly hoping that someone coordinating a physics conference will request that we provide quark cheese and that I can re-label all our flavors as “up”, “down”, “strange”, “charm”, “bottom”, and “top”. I would also like to be invited to this physics conference so I can see if anyone gets the joke. /end nerdiness.