Goma Cheese

Posted by Owen Fuller on February 6, 2014 in reflections |

Our family just returned to the States on furlough.  It’s a big change going from living a couple degrees north of the equator to an Iowa snow storm. Oh, well…c’est la vie!  The snow is kind of nice to see, but it’s bitterly cold.  The wind chill is supposed to hit -30 degrees Fahrenheit tonight (for you non-US readers, that translates to “really freaking cold” in Celsius).  I’m not sure which is better, the bitterly cold and snowy Midwest, or the hot and dusty dry season we just left in Congo.  Each place definitely has it’s things which are better than the other place.

Aside from weather, another thing I was thinking about last night was cheese.  We were walking through the grocery store, and had picked up a few of the cheeses we hadn’t had for a couple of years.  Munster, colby jack, and pepper jack were some of the varieties we had been missing.  It’s nice to have variety again!

In Congo we only had one cheese–Goma cheese.  It was named for the city where it is produced.  It’s basically a Gouda cheese, but we found it tasted like anything from mozzarella to sharp cheddar depending on its age. There were some other varieties available in Uganda, but the prices were expensive.  For nearly the last two years we had been getting 1 kg (2.2 lbs) wheels whenever the pilots would fly to Goma and have weight available on the return flight.  Often we’d get 10 wheels at a time, and us it over several weeks.  The funny thing is, when I saw the Gouda cheese in the store yesterday, I kind of missed the Goma cheese.  This was especially true when I saw the price difference.  Gouda cheese at our supermarket here in Iowa is about $10 per pound.  In Congo a 2.2-pound wheel was only $5 (or about $2.27 per pound).  Some things really are better there.

Coincidentally, I was not the only one interested in Goma cheese this week.  I just saw it tonight on Facebook, but here is a BBC article published three days ago about our beloved cheese.  Perfect timing.  Enjoy the article, and if you’re reading this from east Africa, then enjoy some Goma cheese for me too!

BBC News – The rare art of cheese-making in DR Congo.


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