I am very rarely invited on to the Turkish bloggers organised circuit, maybe because I write in English or perhaps because I am based in Bodrum rather than Istanbul, but on Friday I was and I have to admire their stamina. I was only with them for one day which started at 8:30 am and finished after supper. The others are on the Bodrum peninsula for 4 full days and are bused from activity to activity - meal to meal, non-stop, constantly updating their blog posts, Facebook pages and streaming live on Instagram. I still use a camera and don't even have my phone connected to the internet, I will have to up my game if I want to join their ranks.
Our first port of call on Friday was The Anadolu High School in Turgutreis to watch Austrian cheese producer, Robert Paget, make a soft cheese in front of students planning a career in catering. He talked us through the process from filling the bain-marie and heating the milk to 32 degrees C to adding the rennet and bacteria and waiting an hour to let the curds set. While we waited, Izmir Public Health representative, Vet. Hekim Adnan Serpen, talked at length on the awful consequences of poor hygiene around milk production and the dangers of using raw milk and stressing that all milk be heated to 80 degrees before consumption. At this point our translator added that his friend had died a terrible death after being poisoned by raw milk. Great! Thanks for that and I had to ask, "Was the milk in our incipient cheese raw or pasturised?". I sure you can guess the answer and the dichotomy of the dire warning we had just listened to and what we were doing was conveniently ignored as it is on most subjects here.
Back to the cheese making Robert tried to instil the concept that he wasn't just giving them a recipe for cheese, he was giving them the opportunity to enter the world of cheese in all its diverse forms, some they may take years to discover and this chance to see the magic bacteria turn sweet liquid milk into tangy solid cheese was their door. Most of the students looked unimpressed but I think we discovered one future celebrity chef. Keep you eyes on Savaş, second on the left in the picture. Fluent in English and Turkish, he joined in enthusiastically and was live streamed on Oya Cuisine, Selin Rozane's Turkish Flavours and Dilekita as he helped cut the curds, so he has already been watched by most of the serious foodies in Turkey.
The blogger bus had to move on to the the next rendezvous so we didn't get the chance to see the curds being put into molds or the ricotta being drained, I'll have to wait until the next Slow Cheese Festival in 2019.