Sunday, July 20, 2008


Cheese is an ancient food whose origins predate recorded history.
Cheese was really more discovered then invented thousands of years ago. Proposed dates for the origin of cheesemaking range from around 8000 BCE (when sheep were first domesticated) to around 3000 BCE. The first cheese may have been made by people in the Middle East or by nomadic Turkic tribes in Central Asia.
But there is no conclusive evidence indicating where cheesemaking originated, either in Europe, Central Asia or the Middle East, but the practice had spread within Europe prior to Roman times and, according to Pliny the Elder, had become a sophisticated enterprise by the time the Roman Empire came into being.
Man stored milk in containers. When the right sort of skins or barks were used, some of it fermented and became cheese. Over time and with much experimentation, they discovered ways of making it happen on purpose. This provided a good way of storing things through the winter and when other food supplies were scarce.
There are many variations of the following legend, but it probably all started something like this: There was an Arab merchant who had to cross a desert, as he often did, to trade. As was the standard practice, he filled his canteens with water -- these canteens were actually animal intestines that were tough and waterproof. He filled one of them with milk instead of water, and when a few hours later he held it up to drink, he found it had solidified. The reason is that cheese needs rennet, a compound found in the lining of a cow stomach, to synthesize into cheese. The canteen naturally had this stuff in it, and thus cheese was born!
Butter was sort of discovered the same way, agitation of milk in skins made butter.


kaila said...

are you sureee about that

Nick said...

I think he said he was unsure. MAybe you should read it again.