What's in a cheese?
Posted 12 July 2004 - 02:58 PM
This might seem like an odd question, but really what makes a cheese, cheese? To clarify a little bit; growing up in North Lebanon my grandmother made and she still does make something called “Shanklish”. She simmers some yogurt till it curdles, collects the curds and mixes them with salt and hot pepper. Then she forms them into perfect rounds the size of tennis balls and dries them in the sun till semi-hard. The last piece of the process is to store in jars until a layer of mold forms and they become softer, pungent tasting, very fragrant and of course delicious. When they are pretty much ripe, the outside mold is rinsed off, and they are rolled in a thyme/sesame mixture (a.k.a za’atar). From here on they are ready to eat and I normally store them in the fridge or they will become overripe and not too tasty. They are normally served drizzled with olive oil and eaten with Pita bread.
Ok, I am sorry if I bored you with this account. It all leads me to wonder, is this favorite of mine cheese? I grew up on the stuff and my grandmother still keeps me stocked with it but she does not see it as cheese, just Shanklish.
What do you think? Have you ever heard of it?
Posted 15 July 2004 - 09:04 AM
Posted 15 July 2004 - 11:48 AM
Elie, fascinating; and shanklish sounds scrumptious. What a pity that there is no commercial shanklish for us. I have heard of it, and I do insist it qualifies as a cheese despite starting with yogurt. I intend to make some inquiries as to its roots, its nature, and I further intend to ask some cheesemakers about the process. Thanks, and sorry I have nothing to offer.
There is no need to apologize, you answered my question and I thank you for that. I'm glad you see it as cheese, so my wife can continue labeling it "stinky cheese" . I tried making it once and failed misrably, it developed a nasty funky fuzzy mold and an awful smell and headed straight to the grabage bin. Later my grandmother told me that I simply did not add enough salt. I have not tried it again since.
As for a commercial source in the states, I have not found any. The few specimens I did find in stores looked horrible. even in Lebanon the best kind is the homemade one.
However, if you would like to try it I will be happy to send you a couple of Shanklish balls. They travel very well.
Posted 15 July 2004 - 11:53 AM