Sunday, April 7, 2013

making cheese in mankoto

so one of our projects is to manage a very large national park in the middle of nowhere in congo. the position was open for a few years, because there's very few people out there crazy enough to do it. you need to move to the middle of nowhere (a village of 2000 souls called mankoto, look it up) where there are poachers, people who want to kill you, weird evangelical indigenous groups, lots of poverty, corruption, no power, etc. etc.
well after years of having no one for this job, finally, this american guy from the midwest goes for it. his french is as about good as my dad's, however, he's this really good natured adventurous guy, and as it turns out, a bit of a foodie (he also takes excellent photos)
so he moves to this village, which has the food diversity of a congolese KFC. so he brings a few ingredients from home, plants a garden, and wants to make his own mozzarella. not so hard apparently, fresh cheese, you basically need a stove, a fridge (he has a generator), some citric acid, some culture, and some milk. most of the village is hooked on powdered milk, all you see are cans and cans of white powder, even though there are cows and goats everywhere. weird, right? so he goes to the village chief and asks if he can get some milk from the goats and cows. the chief looks at him in utter incomprehension. so maybe it's the french, or maybe it's that these people have never milked their cows or goats? 
it's the latter. 
so the american guy is all, no, really, it's easy, let me show you, fresh milk! this is how you milk a goat, and a cow, and the village, they all gather around and they are obviously uncomfortable, looks of horror on their faces, covering the children's eyes like they are watching really terrible porn. why this analogy? because they apparently equate udders with sex organs. they basically think this white man is masturbating their livestock. and so you can imagine he's all, look everyone, milk!! you can drink it! and they don't think it's milk. and he makes cheese with it, and eats it. so let's just say that the relationship now between our park manager and the village is just plain weird.
the village people now cannot fathom the sight of this recently milked animal, so they kill it. and the best part? is that they kill a cow, and to them, all cow parts are equal. you pay by the piece. so filet mignon or nose, same shit, for them it all goes into a pot and voila. so the american guy is all cool, awesome! and takes the absolute best cuts of the rump and ribs and goes home happy, paying the same price as he would for tripe and having entrecote for dinner. so, not a bad gig, right? 

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