Altitude Magazine

52 Well it’s not the time to wander! The milk has curdled! Dorothée grabs a weird gadget, a crossbreed between a clothesline with an electric guitar! She knows what she’s doing, her moves are elegant! The weird thing is a ‘’tranche-caillé’’ (curdle-slicer)! The cheese bulk is sliced and sliced again for about fifteen minutes to get a regular grain, the size of a grain of rice or corn! If I understood it at all, we delactose with some water, no more than 10%. The big tub is now heated up to 39° for twenty minutes. About ten more minutes of swirling, the ‘grain’ because it must ‘dry out’ some more! Dorothée dives her hand in the tub, pulls out a handful, wrings it out between her fingers and tastes it! The grain screeches between the teeth, the first step is over! Hygiene is essential, all the containers and the floors are washed and rewashed! On a previous day, it was Nathan, a motivated young man who wants to be a veterinarian that helped Dorothée. Today, it’s Valérie, who came as reinforcement. She’s going to help pull out tens of kilos of ‘grain of cheese'! The two women have an appreciation of each other, we can see it in their collaboration! A big net held between the teeth on one end, and hands on a flexible metallic bar on the other end. They dive the net in the tub, with a synchronized gesture, the bar goes under the mass! A few knots and manipulations later, with the help of a little winch, the amalgam of little grain, still dripping, goes at first in rectangular molds and will be split in six and then twelve portions. But there is some left in the bottom of the tub. Two ends of the net between her teeth, Dorothée dive the two other ends stretching her arms. The tub is deep, she uses the edge to support her waist, stretches her legs and lifts them up to have a counterweight. Nice balancing performance! Square at first, the portions end up in round shapes. Under weights and being flipped over five times, they start looking like cheese. The whey will finish draining. In the evening the tally is added; Merdechon is engraved as a bas-relief on the side of the cheese! The weight is written the next morning. About twelve cheese have been born! And the blacks? Where are the blacks? That’s true, I was so absorbed by the making of the cheese that I forgot them! Unbelievable, local life