25th July 2012. The night it rained with thunder beyond the mountains. Well, a couple of drops. Not enough to get the soap out, strip off and have a shower.
Out of the blue, that afternoon, I was invited to a friend’s house on the mountainside a few kilometres from here. The evening’s attraction was a local Spanish farmer’s wife demonstrating her art of goat cheese making, combined with a fiesta/party. The night was filled with fine company and fabulous food. I digress. Back to the goat cheese. She heated a bucket of goat’s milk and let it cool to the right temperature. Of course, while the milk cooled a few cans of beer and wine were consumed and the conversation turned to milking goats.
It seems that the Spanish farmer has a relation living in the big city who visited them rarely. One particular visit the farmer was milking his goats and the young male relation walked into the milking shed. Being curious of how the farmer went about milking a goat the young man pleaded to have a go. “Grab a goat and get on with it then, lad” said the farmer turning back to the udder he was milking. Suddenly, there was a hell of a commotion, goats were flying everywhere. Why? Because the young man had tried, successfully, to milk a male goat !!
Back to the goat’s milk, in a bucket. Now at the right temperature. The Spanish farmer’s wife while stirring the milk with a short bamboo stick added a few drops of rennet to initiate the conversion from milk to cheese. “It will take a few minutes for the contents of the bucket to congeal enough for the stick to stand erect, unsupported”. While the contents thickened a few cans of beer and wine were consumed and the conversation turned to making cheese.
It was decided amongst the group that rennet was the natural form of Viagra to keep the stick erect.
Back to a now erect, unsupported stick. The Spanish farmer’s wife stirred the “blancmange” and gradually the curds and whey separated. The liquid was poured off and the solid was squeezed to remove the remaining juices. The “cheese” was then placed on a large board with drainage angled grooves to run off the liquid . She produced a trouser belt of woven hemp and curled it around and around to make a ring, a container, which she placed onto the grooved board and filled with the “cheese”, pressing it firmly down with her fist to remove the remaining whey. Once the hemp ring was full the Spanish farmer’s wife turned the “belt” over displaying a beautiful pattern of lines on the “cheese”.
“How did she do that !!” exclaimed one of the guests., “I didn’t see her make THAT pattern !!”
So a handsome small cheese was created. Edible in a few days and if needed to be stored for longer, the cheese would be soaked in olive oil.
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