Everyone has stories about some food that they’ve tasted in the past that lingers in their mind as the best they’ve ever had; and incredible croissant that you had just after landing in Paris, a perfect plate of gorgonzola gnocchi from a hole in the wall that you stumbled upon in Florence, or maybe just the first time that you tasted deep fried cheese curds. I love how memories of food become more and more mythical as time goes on—that elusive flavor that you once tasted but won’t ever be able to find again, because you can’t quite remember where the restaurant or bakery was, or you couldn’t translate the name of the dish in to English.
For years, I have always remembered an incredible quesadilla that I had when I was about ten years old, in Oaxaca. This quesadilla sticks in my memory as hands down the most incredible thing I have ever tasted. This cheese has become somewhat of a holy grail for me—for years I wondered how I could figure out how to find it again. Thinking about it now, its rather incredible that 10 year old me, who subsisted mostly on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Chips Ahoy, was really so in to a quesadilla made with ‘stinky cheese’.
If I had to guess, I’d say that that legendary quesadilla was made with Oaxaca cheese and something else—Oaxaca is a great melting cheese that is used frequently in quesadillas, but it is too mild usually for what I tasted. Oaxaca cheese is a semi-soft, fresh, white cows milk cheese with a salty flavor similar to mozzarella—in fact, mozzarella and Oaxaca cheese are made in very similar ways.
I know that probably my memory has inflated the flavor of this cheese, and that if I were to find it today it wouldn’t live up to how I imagine it. Every time it pops in to my head, my mouth still waters just a little thinking of what it would be like to eat it again. Even if it’s a trick of memory, it still puts a smile on my face to imagine that I once got to taste a mythical quesadilla made with some sort of secret, peerless, perfect cheese!