I was gifted a unique and homemade Egyptian mish cheese from Salah, an Egyptian farmer who recently returned from a visit to his family’s farm in Mansoura, Egypt; the cheese is called mish and is sharp, pungent and salty; Salah told me that President George Bush senior, upon his arrival to Egypt a few years back, had requested it and (apparently) really likes it.
Mish is made from buffalo’s milk and in their farm, there are about forty buffaloes from which they get milk, cream (ashta)-the best cream in the world-, cheese, and of course meat on occasion. Mish is fermented in whey for a long time, in fact, it is also called old cheese (jibneh qadima); the way to eat it according to Salah is grated with tomatoes and onions.
On a side note, according to Charles Perry, halloumi cheese originated in Egypt; in fact, it is the word for fresh cheese in the Coptic language (and the Copts were the original inhabitants of Egypt); this bit of cheese trivia surprised me, as I always thought halloumi was from Cyprus originally.
I am afraid you (and I) are not likely to find this mish in our neighborhood supermarket. It is authentic Egyptian peasant fare and goes back most probably to the times of the Pharaohs or Cleopatra (I wonder if she liked it).