Oscypek, a golden-hued, spindle-shaped cheese, is as delicious as it is beautiful. But authentic versions are getting increasingly hard to find.
On Krupówki, Zakopane’s most famous street, you’ll find local products from all over Poland’s mountainous Podhale region. Tourists can buy jewellery (including brooches in the typical heart-shaped parzenica pattern), flowered skirts and an intricately carved cheese.
Sadly, the latter is likely to be fake. It is very hard to find authentic oscypek – as the decorative cheese is known – in Zakopane. Or anywhere else, really.
That’s because, as per EU regulations, this golden-hued, spindle-shaped cheese has very specific criteria. It must weigh between 600 and 800g and measure between 17 and 23cm. It also needs to be made from at least 60% sheep’s milk, and can only be produced between late April to early October when the sheep feed on fresh mountain grass. Before that, any milk they have is needed for the lambs. Any cheese that doesn’t fit the criteria must be sold as serki góralskie (Highland cheese).