Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cheese for a Wednesday, Nomad Edition (pt. 11)

Things got really interesting at the office around 5:00 tonight, and I didn't get out till after 8:00, so wasn't able to go to Andrew's Cheese Shop for my mid-week munchies.  Grr.  I haven't been to a cheese store in over a week!  Maybe tomorrow.

But in between spread sheet updates and manic printing jags, I was able to do a little research...and I found an awesome tidbit to share with you, my faithful cheeseheads.  Yes, on the edge of the Sahara in Mauritania lies Tiviski, a dairy that drives a milk collection truck around to find the nomadic herdsmen and bring their CAMEL MILK in to the dairy to be pasteurized and made in to CAMEL CHEESE.  OMG.  (Insert joke here if you are so inclined.  I am, but far be it from me to offend...)

Apparently, camel milk is low in lactose, so it's great for those of us with digestive issues.  The low protein content also makes it challenging to turn camel milk into camel cheese because it doesn't curd up in the way as other millks do.  It took a French cheese expert to go to Africa to figure out how to make it work (enzymes!).  Of course, it is also challenging to make cheese in Africa because of the lack of nice cool caves for aging ....

The cheese has a bloomy rind, and a brie-like consistency, and owing to the desert diet (a few grasses, little dry shrubs, etc) it has a definite earthiness!  Probably one of the best things about this dairy is how it has improved the lives of the nomads by giving them the opportunity to sell their milk, allowing them to provide more for their families in a way that totally fits in with their way of life.

There were 100 pounds of this cheese in New York in March of 2008.  I don't know if anyone has anymore, or if there is some for sale somewhere other than New York City, but I' going to keep looking!

(camel photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

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