Thursday, August 28, 2008

Portrait #48: Catupiry

Everyone who ever moves away from home develops some sort of mental list of things-I-must-have-when-I-go-back-to-visit. Usually, it seems like these things are food. Maybe it's because food is easily and frequently consumed, and because it's not something that's always easily shipped elsewhere. For whatever reason, a bit of something we remember eating at home is often just the thing to kill, or inflame, that nagging longing we have for home. Whenever I come back to Brazil, I have a long list of food cravings to satisfy. This time I was only in town for a week, so every meal was carefully planned to hit a certain taste bud.

One thing that I always try to stuff myself silly with is a product called Catupiry. I've never seen it anywhere outside of Brazil. And I love it. It's an acquired taste, I know - I haven't always liked it and when I bring friends with me to visit they often aren't impressed. But oh is it good! The closest equivalent I know of in other countries is Cream Cheese, but Cream Cheese is nothing like Catupiry. To give you an idea, though, using Cream Cheese as a starting place, imagine it just a tad yellower, rougher in texture, saltier, and fluffier, and you're beginning to see the picture. It makes a great filling for potato rolls, a great counterpart to shrimp or chicken in pastries or casseroles, and it is the best topping EVER for pizza. Catupiry pizza knocks Muzzarella pizza well out of the stadium.

My hosts, very knowledgeable persons, introduced me this week to the secret of Catupiry. It turns out that it's true that Catupiry is a Brazilian specialty, produced and marketed exclusively in this fine country. It's been around for about three generations, and the recipe is still a secret. To know how to make Catupiry you've got to be from the Catupiry family (they must be stinkin rich for having taking a country by storm, redefining its entire cheese palate).

They have a factory and the factory has employees, but they are carefully separated from each other. Each step in the production of Catupiry is kept uniquely distinct from the next, in a separate division of the factory, with different employees. Catupiry staff have no cross-division contact with one another whatsoever. Employees are replaced as necessary so as to minimise the risk of one beginning to unravel the Catupiry secret.

According to my friends, many have tried to imitate Catupiry, but no one has come reasonably close to succeeding. There's another Brazilian cheese which is also a local speciality called Requeijāo, but that has been easily imitated. Meanwhile, Catupiry continues to hold a monopoly on yellowish-fluffy-rough-salty cheese that tastes good.


Pri said...

Humm...that was a yummy portrait.
It was good to see you while you're here!



Isabela Siqueira said...

Sister, incredible how you make things sooo common for us, like daily food, seem like one of the best thing we have in Brazil. I've never seen Catupiry like that before....I'm still under the impact of the words you spoke to us at IMOSP, some Sundays ago...I can see you look at things differently, and your point of views have added me some inspiration! That's a gift! and it comes from the Lord, indeed!
In Christ, love, Isabela

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