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Decorative Cheese

There is an amazing cheese that is produced in the Polish highland known as oscypek. What is interesting about the production of this cheese that fewer than 150 people are qualified to do this. Bacas who are the traditional shepherds in the highlands are the ones who produce these decorative spindles of golden, smoked cheese. The cheese is made of sheep milk. The sheep graze in the Tatra Mountain range which divides southern Poland from northern Slovakia.

 Overa 1,000 years ago the Vlachs who were a Balkan tribe introduced shepherding and cheese making to this mountain region. The modern age Bacas living there today dress in the same ancient fashion. They work in small huts and use wooden tools. Once the fresh cheese is ready its put into lovely carved wooden molds to form into ovals, barrels, or spindles. There are some artistic cheesemakers who form the cheese into animal or heart shapes. Only the spindle-shaped cheese has protected status in the European Union. 

 The cheese is smoked using pine or spruce wood while hanging from a beam. The outside becomes golden in color and the inside is creamy and white. The molds Bacas use have been made by hand. Today the Polish people enjoy thin slices of this cheese accompanied by beer, wine, or vodka. 

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  1. I believe you when you say quaility of milk influences the quality and variety of cheese. I was buying cadbury chocolates in New Zealand and some Indian friends were amused I then reminded them that cows in New Zealand produce good quality milk (lol)

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