Daily Archives: October 10, 2017

Return of the cheese man

Yellow Valley trained a local housewife who had never had a job before, Qing Qing, to be its resident cheesemaker. When I first encountered the cumin-flavored variety of Marc de Ruiter’s Gouda, I suspected he was making cheese “with Chinese characteristics”.”Not at all,” he laughs when we met recently for lunch in Beijing. “That’s a very popular flavor in Europe. We eat it at home.”But if cumin’s popularity in China helps people to embrace his cheese, he’s happy for the chance to appeal to both Eastern and Western palates.”While the spices are the first thing you notice,” he writes on the company’s website, “they still do nothing to detract from the smooth, creamy flavor of the cheese within.”An East-West mission also fueled his cheese-making in China when it first began in 2004.”We Dutch like our cheese,” he said in a 2010 interview with China Daily. “But it’s not easy in China to get the cheese we are used to.”De Ruiter’s craving coincided with a dark moment in China’s agriculture: the melamine scandal that squashed demand for made-in-China milk products. The Dutch agronomist, who had been living in China since 1997, watched in horror as small-scale farmers in Shanxi province dumped their unsellable but perfectly good fresh milk down the drains.He was angry about it then-and now.Previous Page 1 2 3 4 5 Next Page

Iron steeds of the steppe

The Mongolian horse is a perfect product of its habitat, the only breed tough enough to survive and thrive in the harsh grassland environment throughout the year. [Bao Yin/China Daily]At the back of Mengke Gangbateer’s traditional Mongolian tent-like ger home, a postcard-sized, framed photo takes pride of place atop the family cabinet.In the black-and-white image, Mengke, a member of the ethnic Mongolian group in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is 5 years old. He sits on a horse outside the ger, wearing a big smile.”It was my first time on the horse, something we considered an important part of our lives. That horse has been gone a long time, but we have had a lot more like it. Many people say they detect a similar smile whenever I get into the saddle.”Mengke, 52, is one of the many herdsmen in the region who continue to rely on the indigenous Mongolian horse in their daily lives.The horse’s size – small compared with other breeds such as the Thoroughbreds seen in derbys and American Quarter Horses that cowboys ride – belies its legendary stamina and ability to thrive on the grassland.The Mongolian horse is famed for being able to travel 100 km a day 10 days at a stretch, resting at night. The feisty quadrupeds need minimal water and can survive on the land without additional feed, digging up and kicking back snow and ice to get to the grass underneath.It was these traits that helped the hordes of Genghis Khan and his successors carve out one of history’s largest land empires in the 13th and 14th centuries. Historical records show that the mounts were perfect for battle. Their speed and agility characterized the outflanking tactics of the Mongolian light cavalry. The steeds’ smallness meant the warriors could jump on and off them easily. The cavalrymen relied on their horses’ ability to traverse the great distances of the steppe to spring multi-pronged attacks.

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