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World famous for their variety in taste and appearance

If like us you live in a country that produces at least a thousand distinct types of cheese, world famous for their variety in taste and appearance and purportedly all of them available in almost all stores and markets everywhere and for various budgets, it becomes much less obvious someone would want to make it at home. Concerning my motives however, nostalgia beats logic and with traditional skills so ingrained in French culture and raw milk so widely available here, you can probably guess by now I will not be able to resist anyway.

You can choose the cheese making process to be extremely simple or extremely complicated, depending on the desired end product, but it always starts with transforming the liquid into solid particles, the cheese curds. This is a natural process; left to its own devices in a warm environment, unprocessed milk will sooner or later separate into whey and small pieces of curdled protein and fat.

One’s appreciation or disgust for this manifestation is grounded in one’s upbringing, as I found out the hard way myself. My mother firmly believed fresh milk to be the best counterbalance for an overconsumption of alcohol, preventing hangovers if taken in early enough and in sufficient amounts. She also considered expiration dates not to be designed for reasonable purposes and relied completely on her own taste buds. Obviously I can’t prove any bad intentions, but I do still hear the giggling coming out of her bedroom sneaking in after a night out in town, right before her shouted whispers to ‘Do drink milk!’.
My diminished accountability always made me fall into her hilarious trap again. Served me right, I’m sure.

Temperature is key in trying to prevent any cheese aging process from falling prey to unwanted forms of decay, as opposed to the decompositions that actually add to its taste, which can be deployed consciously. Lack of fridge space at Les Pierres is the main reason for changing my routines this heat wave time of year, from creating one solid cheese a day to shaping the curds into little balls, covered in home grown herbs, to be preserved extendedly in olive oil, no cooling required. This way winter casts it’s cheesy shadow ahead.

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