Who cut the cheese?
A friend of mine – who recently gave birth – stored a fair amount of her breast-milk into a glass, forgot about it and consequently created human-cheese. Although we are big cheese-worshippers ourselves here at Don’t Believe in Jet Lag, this anecdote made me realise just how strange the dairy paste can be.
Take smelly Époisse for instance, (which happens to be a personal favourite of mine – and Napoleon for that matter). The milk comes from cows, which have grazed for three months; it is washed with salty water and then kept in a humid cellar for another month, before being rinsed again with a combo of Marc de Bourgogne Eau-de-Vie and rainwater – two to three times a week. Crazy right? And its smell is so ghastly, that it’s actually been banned from being taken on public transport in France. (I recommend you enjoy this little baby with some sweet raisin bread. Make it your last bite of the day though as your taste buds might go on strike after that. Most importantly, close your mouth and stay away from any human contact).
Now if you thought Époisse was bad, then avoid Casu Marzu at all costs. The Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese literally translates as “maggot cheese”. I’ll spare you the details but it’s basically pecorino sardo, fermented to an inhumane degree where maggots get involved, and tada! (Some remove the larvae during tasting, others leave it. We haven’t had the opportunity to taste this one yet, so we can’t share any tips).
For those who dig this type of shit, we should probably also mention other bacterial cheeses such as the Mimolette from Normandy and the German Milbenkäse. Both are covered in tiny bugs that poop all over the place, which as a result turns the cheese orange.
Another old stinker is Vieux Lille. Soaked in brine for three months to give it that extra rotten tang, this northern-French cow’s milk cheese has actually been crowned the world’s strongest cheese. Locals tend to pair it with dark beer or black coffee, but we’ve been told to enjoy it with champagne – go figure.
And then there’s the world’s most expensive cheese. Produced in Zasavica, one of Serbia’s most famous natural reserves, Pule is actually made from donkeys’ milk and costs about £800 per kilogram. Why so expensive? Probably because it takes 25 litres of the animal’s milk to produce a single kilogram of the cheese. Talk about milking it…