…and damn, did it taste good.
Someone slipped a package of the white stuff into my hand at the end of a party the other night, and I concealed it in a commodious pocket without a glance. The squishy parcel felt like a ticking time bomb and I made my excuses quickly, in order to retreat to the privacy of an undisclosed location, where I quickly lowered the blinds to examine the goods.
Glory be. A full half pound of soft, crumbling, organic raw goats milk cheese. Farmer’s cheese. Aged less than sixty days. The FDA would be on my ass in a second if they knew.
Which is funny, since the majority of dairy related food illness actually comes from unsanitary handling conditions during the manufacture of pasteurized milks, cheeses, and other dairy products. Raw milks, as a whole, tend to have lower bacterial loads than pasteurized. Not only are they better for you because they’re living, but they’re also less likely to be contaminated. Part of this is attributable to a difference in farming ethics–raw milk products tend to come from organically and holistically raised animals, rather than factory farmed milk machines. In addition to containing antibiotics and hormones, factory farmed dairy is more likely to be carrying an assortment of nasty bacteria which can be easily transmitted to you, the consumer. When pasteurization took root in the 1900s, a number of factors contributed to the decline in dairy related illnesses, including improved dairy hygiene, worker cleanliness, and a generally greater awareness of the vectors of disease transmission. Pasteurization was only a small part of the picture, but the FDA wants you to think it’s the be-all and end-all. I’ve been drinking raw milk for years, and whenever I get my hands on it I’ll consume raw milk cheese as well, although it’s a bit more of a challenge to track down.
There’s only one thing to do with that much evidence: eat it.
The first spoonful went straight into my mouth, for flavour assesment.
The cheese was rich, creamy, lacking in the overly goaty flavour a lot of commercial cheeses have. It was melt in your mouth soft, and layered with complex flavours. I could feel the milk fat rolling on my tongue. I could taste sunshine and soft grass and buttercups, lazy days in the pasture and the sweet scent of late summer. This cheese was vibrant and alive, not dead and listless on the palate. It sang to me.
I tried it crumbled on a salad, too, and smeared on bread. I ate in in scrambled eggs and I even made frosting for cupcakes out of it. I ate it paired with sliced apples and pears and I roasted pears and drizzled wine reduction sauce with flaky goat cheese over them. I flaked it over avocado and ate it with oil and vinegar. I fragmented it onto pizza with pesto and heirloom tomatoes. I fought the feline members of the household for each tender morsel.
But, mostly, I just ate it straight.
If you’ve never had a young raw-milk cheese, you’re missing out. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you where to get some because it’s illegal. But you might know people who know people, if you know what I’m saying.
If you’re interested in trying raw milk, though, Organic Pastures is a good place to start. Once you’ve had raw milk, you won’t want to go back to its pasteurized cousin. Fuller, richer, more flavourful, raw milk actually feels good for you in a way that regular milk doesn’t. It also tends to have less devastating intestinal effects.
While I appreciate some of the strides the FDA has made in food safety, they can stay the hell out of my milk. Lacto-facists.
[raw milk cheese]