Cheese Around the World

Olivia Mele, Reporter

November 24, 2022

Plain Wagasi

Picture this: It is late night, and you are lying in bed, trying to sleep. The clock on the wall is ticking. Tick. Tok. Tick. Tok. “It has got to be getting close to midnight…” you think to yourself. “I just can’t get my mind to rest until I find out…can you milk a camel?”

If you or a loved one have ever lost sleep over a question like this, (and I know you have), then you are entitled to 12 months of free Cheese Around the World articles. You heard that right, a new edition every month, chalk full of international culinary delights hailing from the cheese world. The wait is over. C.A.T.W. is here to save you.

Our first cheese—the November cheese—has its origins from West Africa, specifically from Northern Benin. The cheese, called Wagasi, is traditionally crafted by the Fulani people using cow’s milk. However, under other names such as: Farmer’s cheese, Amo, Wara, Gasaru, and the French variation— Fromage, Wagasi has been enjoyed globally. The technique is almost as straightforward and brief as cheese techniques go. First, the warmed cow’s milk is stirred with an acidic substance, traditionally a leaf from a plant such as Bombax ceiba. After reaching the curdling point, the curds are removed and pressed into round wheels. If one wishes to preserve the finished cheese, then it is dipped into red wax, much like the cheese that you see in supermarkets. When Wagasi is instead desired to be sold as street food, it is usually fried and consumed with pepper for flavor. The purpose of the overall blandness, and therefore versatility, of Wagasi, is akin to the purpose of Tofu. A blank flavor canvas is one that can be easily used as a substitute for other foods, such as meat or fish. Or, it can be combined with spicy sauces, to absorb some of the heat.

American Delicacies.

As a final note, throughout this series, we will come across some cheeses that, from our American, (especially majorly caucasion American) perspective, may seem foreign and strange. And while it is not unusual to feel off-put by things unfamiliar to us, let us not forget that America has its own arsenal of…interesting delights. One such example is the country’s tendency to take a perfectly good food, batter it, and then slam it into the deep-fryer. (Fried Kool-Aid anyone?) Because nothing says American patriotism more than early, and excessive exposure to Red-40.

God Bless America. 

P.S.—if you now need something else to keep you up at night, here is another American wonder; Deep Fried Butter. Yes, people eat this. No, I do not know why heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country.


Sources: Bell, Gwyn. “Restaurants and Restaurant Reservations | OpenTable.” Pinterest, 30 Jan. 2012, (Deep Fried Kool-Aid picture)

Lane, Kevin. “Deep Fried Butter.” Pinterest, 4 June 2013, (Deep Fried Butter picture)