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11/14/09 Redball Cheese

For a country with so many goats, you'd think goat cheese would have found its way into the local diet.

Not so.

"Regular" cheese, aka cow cheese, is also a non-starter.

I don't know why.

Cheese is one of my favorite sources of protein.

But here in Morocco, cheese is rare.

If you ask for l-fromaj (borrowed directly from the French fromage), you'll get soft cheese, sold by the 1-dh triangular wedge. Vache Qui Rit (Laughing Cow) is the most common variety, but there are a couple competitors - La Hollandaise and another whose name I don't recall.

If you want hard cheese, you have exactly one option: redball. More accurately, Gouda cheese sold in red spheres. PCVs call it redball cheese. Moroccans - Tam speakers, anyway - call it l-fromaj azugagh, red cheese.

A full sphere runs you about 150 dirhams, so I usually buy only 20-50 dh worth at a time, depending how many people I'm cooking for.

20dh of redball gets me a wedge about an inch across at its widest point. When grated, that's enough cheese for a cookie-sheet-sized pizza.

(But wait, you say, surely pizza is better with cheddar or mozzarella cheese? Of course, I reply, then smack you upside the head and point you to my earlier comment: if you want hard cheese, you have EXACTLY ONE OPTION: redball. It's impossible to find cheddar or mozzarella outside of the big cities. And since the nearest big city is 9-12 hours away, depending on transport, it means I'm leading a mostly cheese-less life. I'd love a block of cheddar, or a crumble of blue cheese, or some soft goat cheese...I'd swoon over a wheel of fresh Parmesan. Mmm...parm... But here in rural Morocco, I get redball and only redball, and I have to go into SouqTown even to find that. So I grate the gouda and am grateful for it.)

By the way, during my recent trip to the US, I was **shocked** to discover that redball is available in America. I don't know why it surprised me so much; everything is available in America, right? But somehow, the intersection of bled Peace Corps life with big-city-America life just knocked me over.

1 comment:

  1. I've basically decided that unless my life depends on it, or I absolutely CANNOT get another kind of cheese for an extended amount of time, I am never again going to eat Laughing Cow Cheese. Of any variety. (Morocco only has the generic kind, but there are flavors - like dill or basil - available in the US.) One of my roommates bought some Laughing Cow Cheese. When I saw it in the fridge, I actually physically shuddered. But, I really love Redball Cheese. I very happily remember the Redball Cheese Pizza that we had on the Fourth of July there. It was a great way to celebrate the US' birthday.


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