Cheese Capitals: Should Feta Get a Big Letter?

  • Feta cheese, similar to cheddar and mozzarella, doesn’t require capitalization according to general grammar rules, making menu writing and grocery lists simpler
  • Understanding when to capitalize cheese names, like not capitalizing ‘feta,’ can avoid common mistakes seen in restaurant menus and food blogs
  • The confusion around capitalizing cheese names stems from inconsistent practices, but remembering ‘feta’ stays lowercase can help maintain consistency in writing
  • Examples like ‘Swiss cheese’ being occasionally capitalized due to its association with Switzerland contrast with ‘feta,’ highlighting the importance of context in grammar rules
  • Learning the correct capitalization of cheese names, such as ‘feta,’ can improve written communication, whether it’s crafting an email about your favorite recipes or updating a culinary website

Why is Feta Cheese Not Capitalized?

As if grammar rules were not complicated enough, we now have to consider them even for cheese!

No doubt you have seen various websites mention feta cheese and some of them may have capitalized the name.

But, strictly speaking, that’s not correct.

Only words that are proper nouns should be capitalized, such as people’s names, brand names, holidays, planets, places, etc.

Feta is not a place, and the name is derived from the Greek word meaning cheese.

So, actually, not only should feta not be capitalized, but you shouldn’t add the word cheese to it either!

That is called tautology because you are saying cheese cheese, you are duplicating the word!

However, the majority of people will say feta cheese, and that’s what I plan on continuing to do!

Which Cheese Names Should Be Capitalized?

So, having established that feta should not be capitalized, what other cheese names are we likely to get wrong?

One that is often capitalized and shouldn’t be is mozzarella.

Perhaps you thought mozzarella was a place in Italy, and that’s where the cheese comes from!

The word is Italian for “little slice”; it’s not a place.

On the other hand, Cheddar, Colby, and Manchego cheeses should be capitalized, but often aren’t, despite the fact they come from specific places.

And talking about American cheese or Swiss cheese, they should start with a capital letter.

But not the word cheese itself…

Now, just to take things further, the name of cheese should be capitalized if it’s from a specific area, even if it doesn’t share the same name as the place.

For example, Parmigiano cheese should be capitalized, even though it’s from Parma, there is no region called Parmigiano.

And, of course, you probably know it as Parmesan, which actually can be made anywhere, it doesn’t have to come from Parma, but it’s still capitalized.

Oh dear, I wish I hadn’t started this conversation; it’s quite confusing!

And as for the use of accent marks, such as in Chèvre, that’s a whole new story and not one I will be going into here!

Real Greek Feta

My Final Thoughts

The word feta should not be capitalized as it is not named after a specific person or place, and it is not a brand name.

It should also not be described as feta cheese, as the word feta itself means cheese, so essentially, you are saying it twice.

Many kinds of cheese are named after specific places, such as Cheddar, and should be capitalized.

Shall we forget all about this and just concentrate on eating the cheese?

But if you are interested in more fascinating cheese facts, allow me to blow your mind by discussing what happens if you microwave feta!

How do you think the capitalization rules for cheese names like feta impact the way we perceive and discuss food in written communication?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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