Living in America–or most of the developed world–its easy to take for granted the access to everything that we have. You want cheese? You can purchase twenty different kinds at your neighborhood pharmacy or buy it on almost any fast food. Here in Ethiopia, cheese is difficult to find outside the capital and even then, very limited. The only cheese I’ve been able to find in Bahir Dar is a sort of crappy attempt at provolone that doesn’t taste like much of anything.
So what is one to do when she really wants cheese for a pizza? Make it, of course!
Yesterday, Ryan and I made our first attempt at homemade mozzarella.
It started Saturday night when we were at dinner at one of our favorite spots, Meqenet. The owner makes awesome foreign food, including German, Turkish and Yemeni, and also happens to sell milk. So we purchased all she had: 2 litres. Typically you need at least 4 litres to get even a useable amount of cheese.
Then yesterday, we prepped the cheese making materials (thoughtfully ordered ahead in May when Ryan had a short trip back to the States) and started the pasteurization process.
When you buy milk in the US, it’s pasteurized and all safe for you to drink or use immediately. Here in Ethiopia, where milk isn’t pasteurized and instead collected straight from the cow, bovine tuberculosis can infect humans. No thanks. So in order to make sure the milk is safe to use, we had to pasteurize. After pasteurization, we started the cheese making process. The instructions say it takes half an hour… but with the additional step of pasteurization, it took almost two and a half.
Two and a half hours just for a measly handful of cheese! And unfortunately, we screwed up somewhere so that cheese wasn’t even stretchy like moz should be… ended up looking more like cottage cheese. Alas.
From start to finish, our pizza took three and a half hours, including the cheese. So next time you order a pizza and are annoyed it’ll take 45 mins to deliver, remember the Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia who are literally having to make our own cheese when we want a pizza.