Monday, January 19, 2009


The recipe, Ida says, goes like this: You first talk to the goats and pat their udders coaxing out flavors only goats know about. And you must feed only excellent quality hay, alfalfa is best but first-cut clover or timothy will do. Ida takes out some of the colostrum, essential for the new-borns, and mixes bits of, yes, hay or straw in a teaspoon or two of her own saved grated parmesan. She ties this up in a cheesecloth sack letting it hang to dry as a starter. After about three months it is lardish and spreadable. This way the cheese is incredible.

hand milking
white foam
flecking her pail

Ida then pours nine to ten quarts of warm goat’s milk straight into a black spatterware kettle and stirs in two teaspoons of her special concoction, mixing thoroughly. The curd sets in about half an hour. Ida cuts the curd and pours it into cheesecloth draped carefully over a large blue bowl. Naturally she saves the whey for ricotta later. Next morning she scoops out the drained curds pressing them lightly into an old wooden mold. After draining again over night Ida presses more curd into her wooden mold, pushing down firmly. Then the mold is set to drain over the large blue bowl for eight or nine days.

When the cheese loosens from the mold Ida rubs salt all over the round and hangs it in a string-net bag for six months to cure. Parmesan, she says, will last and stay delicious for four to five years. But Ida’s parmesan cheese couldn’t possibly last that long.

the tongue’s memory

by Ed Higgins
Newberg, Oregon

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