Portugal, given its continental narrowness, cannot pride itself of having good pasture, especially for larger stock. However, in the areas where the high grass is scarce, the goats and the sheep reign. The Azores is quite a different story. In San Miguel and the other blessed islands, the cow appears as empress.
Therefore, and also due to the poverty of the soil, herd tending has always been present in the Lusian lands, as a very old livelihood, quite often supplementing in a sustainable manner of the soil, while the payment for de "pasture" that fed the furry or woolly cattle that returned the natural manure to the earth was negotiated between farmers and shepherds.
It is quite obvious that in herd land the cheese is the king. Cheese is perhaps the oldest man made processed food. After that hunting, fishing and fruit and vegetable collecting times were bygone, and after man had learned to master the secret of fire, cheese appeared.
Cheese making, whichever the cheese, is an art. At least that is the case with hand-made cheese, intuitively worked by experienced hands, where knowledge is passed down from the mother to the shepherd’s daughter who attentively follows every details: the temperature of the hand, the curdling time, the turning of the cheeses and the changing of the bands, the pastures of broom or other graminaceous plants of the higher lands which greatly influence the flavour of the final product.
It is to continue to preserve it have been created "Geographic Areas of Production." Currently there are thirteen the "Protected Designation of Origin" (PDO) (1) and a "geographical indication" (GI) (2), as follows:
(1) PROTECTED DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN, have to demonstrate that the product originates in the place that gives it its name and has a strong connection to that region, so that you can prove that the product quality is influenced by soil, by climate, animal breeds and plant varieties or the know-how for the people of this area.
(2) GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION, it is shown that has at least a part of the production cycle of the product originates from the site which gives the name and has a "reputation" associated with that region, so that it is possible to connect some of the characteristics of the product to the soil or climate or animal breeds or plant varieties or the know-how of the people of this area.