Milk. You know, watery white stuff, comes out of the udders of a cow, can be produced in great quantities, bottled, sold to people at shops, you can make cream and cheese out of it, excellent product. Seems simple, doesn't it? But at some point we all got confused about the whole damn thing, and we started getting things like 'raw milk' and 'bath milk' being sold in the supermarkets alongside, um, 'milk' milk. You know, 'Raw milk' - it's milk that isn't pasteurised or homogenised before being sold to customers. Same deal with 'bath milk'. Same as virtually all the milk that's been drunk by our ancestors since bovines and primates first began cohabiting the same spaces.
So today I made a raw milk cheese. I did it because you're supposed to get better results if you make mozzarella out of unpasteurised milk; less proteins and less culture gets destroyed and makes the curds more pliable in the final stages. Well, no. Actually I made it because the very slight risk of contracting listeria from a slice of delicious raw milk cheese adds a delicious zing to the cheese and makes the taste that much more delectable.
In fact the raw milk wasn't nearly enough cultured for me; I even added a spoonful of yoghurt (live cultures: acidophilus, bifidus, plus a spot of Mozart and Picasso) to the mix and let it think about what it had done while I went off and wasted my time elsewhere.
Anyway, you know how it is with recipes: pour this in, heat this up, stir this around, let this rest, bla bla bla. So here I was, busily doing all this over the stove, and of course at some point - when you've got the mozzarella curds ready, you heat up the leftover whey, and you repeatedly dip the curds into the whey to turn them into mozzarella cheese, proper - you come across the baffling recipe direction:
Knead with spoons
Knead with spoons? You might just as well say make a cabinet with penguins. Fey and whimsical and ambiguous directions often pop up in my cheese recipes, I've got to say - I'm making a list which I'll be happy to report on soon - and this one is definitely being added. (This recipe was from Rikki Carroll's excellent Home Cheese Making).
How was the mozzarella in the end? Disappointing. I'm not quite sure what it is about the curds, but they still don't quite have that mozzarella feel to them. No, I don't know what that is either. But delicious. That tasty, tasty, just-possibly-with-a-hint-of-listeria-zing. I recommend it.
And remember, every bottle of raw milk you buy from the supermarket shelves, you save from some hippy who wants to pour it into their bath. Because hippies having baths is so very, very wrong.