(Photo by Jerry Redfern)

“It’s hard yak cheese, dried over a kitchen fire, cured for six months, then chopped into cubes . . .  This is some hard stuff, folks. It tastes a bit like smoked wax, and it takes a good three or four minutes to extract further flavor from the cube. Basically, it gives the mouth something to do while lugging firewood up and down these mountains — as all the children do,” says Karen in her post A Bit of Yak in the Hand.

My friend Doris Shaw gave me a piece of yak cheese. It must have been sometime between 1983 and 1986, because we were classmates during those years as under-graduate students in Bangalore. She lived in a Bible college campus where many students from the North East of India studied, and that’s how she got hooked to yak cheese.

The second and last time I saw yak cheese was in Gangtok in June 2005. Watching my joy at seeing the little plasticy cubes, those with me popped a piece into their mouths. Every single one of them was singularly unimpressed and spat it out.

Not everyone can eat yak cheese; you’ve got to have class.