December 29, 2007

Say cheese!

boy selling cheese, La Ceiba, HondurasSay cheese!

I happened to notice this cute, very serious little boy selling cheese outside the supermarket. I don't much like Honduran cheese, but he was so low-keyed and not pushy that he caught my attention. I asked what kind it was: queso mojado (wet cheese).

Honduran cheeses have such descriptive names − not! There's wet cheese, dry cheese, hard cheese, white cheese, and so forth, giving you no clue as to what the cheese will taste like. All are similar in that they are generally so salty that you can taste nothing else. That, actually, is a good thing, because if you can taste the cheese, it often tastes like spoiled milk.

If the cheese has a name that you recognize, like Parmesan, Cheddar, or American − stay away and don't believe it. It is some other-worldly version of what Parmesan, Cheddar or American taste like and thank God they don't.

I asked the boy if I could taste the cheese, thinking that if it didn't taste like it was made of spoiled milk, I would buy it for El Jefe. I expected that he would say no, but he put a plastic bag over his hand, tore off a little chunk and handed it to me. Surprise, surprise! It wasn't salty at all and it didn't taste sour. Sold! They were only L.15 (US $0.79) so I bought two. Queso mojado tastes similar to a very fine grained cottage cheese.

He then asked me if there was anything else. Confused, I looked around and then realized that his mother (I think) had a table next to him with little bags of corn tortillas so, not wanting to disappoint him, I bought one of those, too.

Always the blogger, I asked him if I could take a photo of him with his cheese. After I got the photo above, I asked him if he could smile for another one. That made him embarrassed so he smiled but turned his head away. I was following him around in a circle trying to get the photo, which made him smile more and want to hide from me more. I finally did, I thought, get a photo of him with the cheese and smiling, but when I downloaded my photos, it wasn't there. :-/

Hondurans do not like to smile for photos. I can usually make them smile, but if I show them both photos, they will always like the serious one the best. Why is that?

I think I've said in the past that all Honduran cheese is bad, so I will now officially retract that statement and say that if you are at the Paiz store in La Ceiba and see this little boy, his cheese is pretty good. He was also very serious about keeping that lid closed to keep the cheese cold and the flies away, a very good thing.

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