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Pule Party: The World’s Most Expensive Cheese

Sometimes, cheese can get a little pricey. Although there are plenty of good ways to get your cheese-fix on a tight budget, many of us would go to great lengths to eat cheese at all costs. But what if the cost was several hundred dollars?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a cheese more beautiful and luxurious than Clawson Stilton Gold, a limited production British cheese that is shot through with gold leaf flakes and gold liqueur. The pure white Stilton and glittering veins make this cheese look like a jeweler’s masterpiece. Surprisingly, this cheesy treasure is not the most expensive cheese in the world, despite its appearance. In fact, at roughly $400 a pound, Stilton Gold is still considerably cheaper than the world’s most expensive and rare fromage: donkey’s milk cheese.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of foodchannel.com

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of foodchannel.com

That’s right, the humble donkey is the source of the single most coveted cheese on the market. Formally known as “pule,” a pound of donkey’s milk cheese costs anywhere from $600–$1,000. However, even if you were willing to pay above and beyond the already exorbitant price, it’s unlikely that you could get your hands on pule in the first place – it’s just that rare.

Made from the milk of Balkan donkeys, pule is only produced in one location worldwide, the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve in Serbia. The milking process is slow because it must be done manually, and jennies produce a very miniscule amount of milk on any given day. And with a small herd of only 130 pule-producing donkeys, the odds are not in your favor for there being enough cheese to go around, regardless of the price.

Cheese enthusiasts and foodies from all over the world are clamoring for a taste of pule because of its renowned flavor. Described as crumbly and soft, it is said to have a similar taste to that of Spanish manchego, but with a deeper and richer flavor. The superior qualities of donkey’s milk have been revered for thousands of years, and legend has it that the Egyptian queen Cleopatra bathed in donkey’s milk in an attempt to preserve her beauty. Containing only 1% fat and sixty times more Vitamin C than cow’s milk, donkey’s milk has a long history as an ingredient in health and beauty regiments; the Zasavica Reserve also sells donkey’s milk soap, for those who believe in its restorative powers.

Of course, if you’re looking for a novelty cheese-eating experience and aren’t specifically craving pule, there are many types of cheeses that are made with “exotic” alternative milks. Camels, reindeer, and yak are just a few of the unexpected animals whose milk is used in cheese production, all of which are less expensive and more easily accessible than the ever-elusive pule.

Photo Credit: Featured image courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

Emily Dangler

Culture Intern Emily Dangler is a creative writer and travel enthusiast, who is always looking for a good story to tell. Originally a West Coast girl, Emily has spent several years migrating across the country and is currently an adopted resident of Boston, where she is enjoying the city's delicious food and rich history.