It is well known that diamonds are rare gemstones and ultimately expensive; lesser known is that the Canadian 1936 penny with a dot is almost impossible to find and thus worth a small fortune. And so it is with “Pule”, a cheese made from the milk of the Balkan donkey in Serbia.
In 2013, Pule was valued at approximately $1,400.00 CAD per kilogram (or $140.00 per 100 gm) and thereby was and is the “world’s most expensive cheese”. The reason for this lies in the fact that there are only about one hundred ‘jennies’ (female donkeys) on the Zasavica Donkey Reserve which lies in the rolling hills about eighty kilometers from Belgrade.They must be hand milked three times per day and each produces an extremely small quantity of this renowned milk. It then takes twenty five liters to make a single kilo of the finished cheese. A very specialized production indeed! In order to support and preserve the donkey cheese industry of his homeland, tennis star and restaurant owner Novak Djokovic bought up the entire 2013 output of Pule to serve exclusively in his establishments.
I certainly don’t foresee Pule being available at La Jolie any time soon, but having said that… wouldn’t it be a treat to simply taste this rare delicacy!? As with all great artisinal cheeses, it is the culmination of much pride, passion, artistry and, particularly with the Balkan donkey, ever-so-rare milk, gentle love and great patience.
As a footnote, there is a group near Guelph, Ontario caring for donkeys in need. A fun place to visit…. a wonderful place to support: