Turkish String Cheese – Dil Peyniri – and Goat Bag – Tulum – Cheese
Filed under Food around the world
I rounded a corner in Istanbul and almost tripped over a conical shaped mount of animal skin that was positioned directly in front of a cheese shop. I looked down at the odd pile of ex-animal and wondered what it was.
“What is this?” I asked a man in a white over coat that worked in the cheese shop.
He gave me a piece of cheese but did not answer my question.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Istanbul, Turkey- March 2, 2009
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I then inspected the odd mound closer and realized that it was in fact goat skin that covered up some odd sort of cheese. It was probably placed in the street to gain the attention of passing tourists, and I took the bait like no other. As I entered the shop, I found another one of these goat skin bags hanging from the ceiling and asked another white-clad clerk what was inside of it.
He gave me a piece of cheese to shut me up. I ate the goat bag cheese while taking a few photos, thinking that, with a little further research, I could at least write a travelogue entry about it.
When out on my exploratory rounds I always keep an eye open for something weird to write about. Cheese aging inside of a hunk of ragged goat hide in the middle of a bustling, modern, and metropolitan Istanbul street is good enough fodder for this travelogue. The goat skin bag is called a tulum, and the cheese that is cured inside of it fittingly comes from a goat and is referred to as “tulum cheese.”
“More than ten types of Tulum cheese are produced in Turkey. Tulum cheese has a white or cream color, a high fat content, a crumbly semi-hard texture and a buttery pungent flavour. The most popular of these cheeses is Erzincan Savak Tulum which is produced mainly in the eastern region of Turkey and is now produced in many factories . . .” -La Lait Dairy Science and Technology
“Tulum cheeses were manufactured from raw ewe’s milk and ripened in goat’s skin bags (tulums) . . . Chemical compositions of the cheeses ripened in tulums were significantly different and the moisture contents decreased rapidly in those cheeses because of the porous structure of the tulum. Higher microbial counts were detected in the cheeses ripened in plastic than in cheeses ripened in tulums.” -Composition of Tulum Cheese
Tulum bag housing tulum cheese in Turkey
Tulum bag curing cheese and hanging from ceiling of Istanbul cheese shop
I poked and prodded – photographed – the tulum bag some more as the cheese men patiently watched on hoping that my interest could be translated into a sale. At my hesitation to buy, they jumped to their usual recourse and, yes, offered me a piece of cheese. If I were only a mouse, I could make a dandy good living jumping from Istanbul cheese shop to Istanbul cheese shop performing the silly tourist gag for free samples of cheese.
But a box of stringy looking cheese soon caught my attention and I focused my attention upon a cardboard box full of string cheese. I can remember the days when mozzarella “string cheese” made its debut in elementary school dining halls of the USA. It was a hit. All of the cool kids from well-to-do middle class families were making wild displays of their “string cheese” as they pulled neat little strips from their neat little sticks in the faces of all of us poor kids who were perennially stuck with plain and cheap yellow slices of processed American. I was one of the poor kids who had to wait for every new fad and hit to go on sale before my mother would buy it for me. By this time it was always too late. But I was a clever little nerd, and I could sometimes be able to coerce a privileged friend into giving me a string of their trendy cheese every once in a while. Maybe I had to trade him an old ugly G.I. Joe for the great joy of tasting the trendy new cheese of our day.
Now, as an adult staring upon the big boxs of real string cheese in Istanbul, string cheese no longer seemed very exciting. Perhaps I am becoming old and bitter.