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"Food and Eating"--9

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  • Helen Fedor
    The processing of sheep’s milk was a different story. Sheep-farming and sheep-breeding were widespread in the mountains and foothills of the Slovak
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2010
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      The processing of sheep’s milk was a different story. Sheep-farming
      and sheep-breeding were widespread in the mountains and foothills of the
      Slovak Carpathian Mts. These farmers and breeders specialized in the
      production of sheep’s milk cheese, which was produced in all the
      herding regions of the Carpathians and the Balkan Peninsula. The cheese
      curd could be eaten fresh, although most of it was further processed.
      “Bryndza” production was the most widespread. The curd that
      turned sour was cut, kneaded, salted, and packed into a wooden vessel
      whose top was closed and sealed to lessen the curd’s exposure of air.
      The traditional production process, and also the name “bryndza”
      itself, show the cheese’s foreign origin: it was brought to Slovakia
      from the southeast by shepherds who colonized the Slovak Carpathians
      during the 14th-17th centuries. It is very interesting that production
      of the cheese has not been preserved in the original herding area from
      where it came to Slovakia. In Slovakia, “bryndza” has remained the
      primary product of sheep farming and breeding, and is a very popular and
      piquant part of traditional cuisine. “Bryndzove’ halus~ky” are
      considered to be one of the most typical national meals of Slovaks.

      Cheeses preserved through smoking, “os~tiepky,” and through
      steaming, “parenice,” are other traditional products made from sheep
      cheese curd. “Os~tiepky” are made by kneading cheese curd into
      small balls that are then dipped in warm water or in whey. Once
      softened, they are pressed into carved[?] wooden molds; when they are
      shaped, they are then dipped into a salty solution to harden. These
      cheeses are preserved via salting and smoking, whereby they take on a
      specific flavor. “Parenice” are made similarly, but the kneaded
      balls are allowed to turn sour before they are dipped in hot water, at
      which point they become elastic. The cheese can be stretched into long
      ribbons that are either turned into rolls or are braided. The finished
      products are sometimes lightly smoked.(15) Processing sheep’s milk
      into various products accounted for a significant part of the Carpathian
      region’s economy. A large amount of these products was delivered
      straight from the sheep farms to cheese factories, or it was taken to
      markets and fairs for sale. These products enriched and added variety
      to the otherwise poor and quite dull diets of sheep-owning households.
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