Fanfare: Donkey cheese?

  • Monday, January 14, 2013

Donkey Cheese.
No, I didn’t stutter. You read this right. It exists, it’s real and it’s considered a delicacy.
Depending on the market price it’ll run you about $600 a pound.
Pardon me while I quietly gag – not at the $600 a pound price tag, but at the thought of sliding a slice of donkey cheese onto a Ritz cracker, cracking open an adult beverage and watching the ball game.
Here’s another problem with donkey cheese. If you want some you have to talk to Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic. The ITF World Champion and the ATP World Tour’s top ranked player has cornered the market on the entire world’s supply of donkey cheese. Apparently there is one tiny farm that produces donkey cheese and it’s located in Serbia and Djokovic bought out the guy’s entire supply for next year.
According to an article I came across on Time magazine’s website, Djokovic bought out the world’s supply of cheese to ensure he could serve it up in his new chain of restaurants he plans to open in his native country.
I found this little news tidbit because I drank four glasses of sweet tea after 9 p.m. I wasn’t going to sleep until sometime well after 5 a.m.
This stuff is called “pule,” though I have a similar sounding word to call it, and Djokovic spent millions in acquiring all this cheese. Not only is it the world’s most expensive cheese it is the most intensive to make, requiring 25 liters of donkey milk to produce one kilogram of pule. That’s a little more than two pounds of prized donkey cheese.
I didn’t know donkeys gave milk. If I paid any attention during sophomore Biology I would know that a donkey is a mammal and all mammals produce milk.
Therefore, throwing a little philosophically based thinking into the mix, if all mammals give milk then can all mammals’ milk produce cheese? Apparently so. The donkey did.
I spent the night reading and found out that donkey milk has been around for a long time.
Hippocrates, the world’s first M.D., used donkey’s milk to heal wounds and snakebites.
Nero’s wife would wash her face in it seven times a day. I bet that smelled nice on a hot summer’s day in ancient Rome. No wonder it burned.  
Pre-20th century hospitals across Europe would keep a donkey or two on hand to provide milk for babies just in case the new mother couldn’t. Who knew?
Apparently it is really good for you, extremely low in fat compared to cow’s milk, and is rich in the omega 3 and omega 6 acids found in oily fish.
I also found out that feta cheese comes from goat and sheep’s milk – that’s the last time I’ll be eating any of that.
So I took the rest of this sleepless night and took to reading. Apparently you can make cheese from the milk of any animal.
Horse cheese is another European delicacy. Apparently there isn’t just reindeer cheese there is also reindeer ice cream.
If pigs weren’t so difficult to milk we’d be eating pig’s cheese, and I’ll never buy anything under the Boar’s Head brand name again.
I feel like I just opened Pandora’s Box and found out all the dark secrets of the universe. One of those dark secrets being donkey cheese.
Cleopatra used to bathe in it.
I bet no one told Elizabeth Taylor that.

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