Ever had queso fresco (fresh cheese)? Ever had fresh homemade queso fresco? Knowing the translation makes it sound a little redundant, doesn’t it?
I’ve always thought about making homemade cheese, like mozzarella, since way back when before we were expats. I never got around to it since I found raw cheese at our local market in Austin. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Raw dairy products can be dangerous and carry things like salmonella. But you know what? I never got sick. I guess the odds were in my favor!
Anyway, since moving to Panama I got re-interested in making homemade cheese since I could no longer find raw cheese. I didn’t think it was possible because all the milk I can find in this Latin tropical paradise is Ultra High Pasteurized milk. Then there’s the other stuff that you need to make cheese, cultured buttermilk and rennet, which has been impossible for me to find. Hence, I figured that without those essentials, there’s no such thing as homemade cheese in Panama unless you have your own cow for fresh milk and can make your own rennet…something I will be very surprised if I ever find myself doing because of the “ewe” factor.
Lo and behold, I have been proven wrong. My in laws went on a trip to the interior, Santiago more specifically, and my mother-in-law came back baring gifts to her angel of a daughter-in-law. (Now what’s the alt code for the smiley with a halo?)
She had some fresh sugar cane that was taller than me and some fresh homemade queso fresco that she picked up from the family they were visiting in Santiago. As soon as the in-laws left, I got busy peeling and chopping the sugar cane into bite sized pieces for the hubs and I to snack on as we surfed the web side-by-side in bed. Yes, we eat in bed. What can I say? It’s paradise. Rules change.
Onto the homemade queso fresco…isn’t she beautiful? I had to cut it into a Pac Man! I wish I had a yellow plate, but orange had to do.
I’m a queso fresco eating fool. I like crumbling it on my beans, in between a warm corn tortilla, on top of my nachos, and wherever else I can think of in a moment’s notice. I even love eating it by itself! I’m half Latin so I suppose it’s in my blood. What did I think of this queso fresco? Hmmm…it had a weird taste to it, not that it was bad. It was just weird. I don’t know if it was made with fresh cow’s milk or UHT milk, but I wasn’t digging it. It’s sad because I kept going to the fridge and taking little bites of the round disc wishing, hoping that the weird taste was only in my mind. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be so I shared it with some fellow Gorgonites in hopes that it would be appreciated by local palates.