FOOD IMPORTER Blog: Little Miss Muffet




Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Eating of curds and whey 

So begins the old English nursery rhyme that school children recite to this day. It first appeared in print in 1805 in a book titled, Songs for the Nursery. Today, few Londoners know what a tuffet is, let alonecurds and whey.  Let's get tuffet out of the way immediately.

There came a great spider
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away

A tuffet, of course, is a pouffe, or what we call today, a hassock. It is distinguished from a stool by being completely covered in cloth so that no legs are visible. However, the tuffet that Little Miss Muffet sat on was not furniture at all. When the nursery rhyme was written back in the early 17th century, a "tuffet" was a little grassy mound or hill.

But, what about "curds and whey"? Apparently, little lasses sitting about eating curds was a common occurrence in the 17th century. What happened to curds and whey? One hardly sees anyone in the UK eating curds in this day and age. They have simply gone by the board.

Or have they? Actually, you've probably eaten curds and whey without knowing it. Curds and whey are the lumps and liquid found in cottage cheese. Curd cheese (cottage cheese) is made from milk. There are dozens of different proteins floating around in that white fluid. When Rennet, an enzyme from a calf's stomach, is added to the milk by the cheese maker, some of the many proteins in the milk clump together. These clumping proteins are called "curd proteins" and they are Miss Muffet's "curds".  The remaining liquid that doesn't clump, is her "whey". Unfortunately, whey doesn't actually taste very good, so modern cottage cheese makers tend to press or wash their product, leaving a cottage cheese that is mostly curds.

The finest curd cheese in the world is found in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Rather than mixing relatively large amounts of rennet into milk at room temperature, traditional Czech and Slovakian curd cheese makers warm soured milk until the desired degree of coagulation is reached, adding only a small amount of rennet to make the curd firmer. Then they hang the cheese in loosely woven cotton gauze and let the whey drip off. This patient, natural process results in curd cheese that has a delicate balance of texture and taste.

Vatrushka, from the Czech word Vatra meaning "little fire", is the world's most delicious curd cheese pastry. It may seem surprising that curd cheese can make a light pastry, but it does. Czech and Slovakian curd cheese pastries are made with the finest flour in the world. You might think that curd cheese is used only as a center filling in traditionally baked pastry. However, Czech curd cheese pastry is made by mixing the curd cheese, butter, flour and baking powder together at the outset, then baking them into individual pastries ready for apricot jam, finely chopped apples with raisins, or cheese fillings.

Traditional Czech curd cheese is the secret ingredient that separates these delicacies from commercially produced cottage cheese pastries of the common variety.  Regardless of the filling, the dough of a Czech curd cheese pastry offers up a distinctive sweet/sour flavor that only the cheese from the mountains of the Czech Republic and Slovakia can impart.

Halusky is the sole importer of traditional Czech curd cheese pastries to the UK. Tvarohový koláč, or potted topped cheesecake, is imported directly to the Halusky shop on Upper Richmond Rd. and can then be delivered to your door, if you prefer.

9 May, 2014← Previous Post