Cheesy Goodness (That Isn't From a Cow)

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George R. R. Martin once wrote, “Give me a good sharp knife and a good sharp cheese, and I’m a happy man.” And ol’ George wouldn’t be alone in thinking that cheese is happiness. Whether it’s baked, broiled or fried, the vast majority of the cheese we stuff in our maws comes from cows. But they are not the only cheese-making machines out there—it is National Goat Cheese Month after all. So what better time to celebrate cheeses that don’t come from cows than today?

Buffalo Cheese. Cheese sticks are a staple of chain restaurants and frozen food aisles everywhere—and that sticky mozzarella inside comes from cows, right? Well, sort of. Traditional mozzarella, known as mozzarella di bufala, is made from the milk of domestic water buffalo and produced mainly in Italy. But because of the lack of water buffalo herds in America, we have to make most of our mozzarella out of cow’s milk, much to the relief of buffaloes.

Camel Cheese. Like many other four-legged mammals, camels have an udder that produces milk—and if it makes milk, people will make cheese out of it. Take Nancy Abeiderrhamane, Spanish expat living in Mauritania who created the first known camel cheese, called caravane, with the help of local camel herders. With three times the vitamin and nutrient content of cow’s milk, caravane makes an ideal pre-workout snack if you’re looking to get swole.

Donkey Cheese. A donkey might be an ass, but donkey cheese, called pule, is anything but bottom of the barrel. Known as the most expensive cheese in the world, pule is made from the milk of Balkan donkeys and cost $600 per pound in 2013. Why the hefty price? There’s just not much product: Only 100 female donkeys on the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve in Serbia are hand milked for pule, and it takes more than six gallons of milk to produce just two pounds of the cheese.

Baby Cheese. Breast milk cheese appeared on the menu at chef Daniel Angerer’s New York restaurant Klee Brasserie back in 2010, courtesy of his brave and loving wife, Lori. The cheese, served with pickles and thinly-sliced bread, initially shocked patrons, gaining Angerer lots of negative press attention. Still, legendary food critic Gael Greene didn’t back down when offered a nibble, finding it to be “strangely soft, bouncy, like panna cotta.” And though the New York Health Department quickly forbid Angerer from continuing to serve breast milk, the recipe lives online for all of you missing mom’s home cooking.