The three blind mice had long since returned from their sojourn to the moon, and had fallen into dire straits regarding their alternative cheese exploits. They had munched their way through just about every single variety of conventional cheese on the planet – everything from camembert to halloumi, feta to cotija – and just couldn’t forget the memory of delectable moon cheese with its far-out extraterrestrial qualities. They had had a taste of the universe and wanted more.
Unfortunately, their space ship was out of space fuel, so they were somewhat limited in their voyaging options.
“How about Mars?” suggested Mouse Number 2.
“Hey dummy,” said Marvin. “That’s even further than the moon. We can’t make it out of Earth’s atmosphere with no space fuel.”
“How about a stay-cation?” suggested Mouse Number 3. “Or at least a stay-on-Earth-cation.”
The other mice nodded cautiously and devised a plan. They would take Marvin’s acorn husk boat and sail across the ocean to tropical isles never yet set foot upon by any of their mice brethren, where fame and fortune and untold cheese varieties awaited. There was bound to be some good undiscovered fromage yet on this planet, they concluded.
The three mice stocked the husk boat with the last of their moon cheese and crackers and set off on their ocean journey. It was perilous, compared to their short moon hop – the ocean was turbulent, and two of the mice were plagued with constant seasickness. Three times big waves capsized their small boat and threw them overboard, where they had to float along, tails tied to each other, until they managed to swim back to their seaworthy vessel.
Suffice it to say, by the time they made landfall the mice were sick of the great blue ocean and couldn’t jump onto the hot sand quick enough. They were so busy hugging the solid ground beneath their feet that they didn’t notice their new surroundings for several minutes. In addition to the salty fresh ocean air, there were giant, textured trees with great palm fronds waved before them, hanging sturdy green footballs above their heads, while sloping green mountains rose in a gentle wave beyond the palm forest. They wandered through the coconut trees into a field of stocky, leafy plants, and into the abode of a local island family.
“Can I help you?” offered a woman, whose sleeves were rolled up as she scraped a coconut against a grater.
“Very kind of you to ask,” said Marvin. “In truth we are voyagers who have been on the ocean for days, seeking the next newest form of cheese. We are very happy to be in this great but unknown-to-us land, and would much appreciate a chance to taste some of your local cheese.”
The woman’s brow wrinkled. “Oh! How interesting. Unfortunately we don’t make cheese here.”
“Huh?” The mice looked at each other blankly.
“We don’t eat cheese – never have. Even if we did we don’t have any cows or goats, so it would be imported. I’m not even quite sure what it looks like, to be honest.”
The mice’s mouths dropped to the floor and their hearts sank within them. To come all this way, for no cheese?
“But surely you must know of some nearby neighboring island with a handy cheese supply,” persisted Marvin. “Maybe three or four islands, even.”
The woman shook her head regretfully. “If you tell me more about this ‘cheese’, I might be able to whip up something like it. We have lots of great, versatile ingredients here.”
Not feeling very optimistic, the mice decided to let the woman take her shot, taste whatever poor result she produced, then be on their way. Perhaps she was a closet cheese-hater trying to lead them astray, and they would find some cheese at the next house over.
But before they knew it the woman was handing them slices of something that by all established cheese tenets looked, smelled, and chewed just like a soft white cheese.
“This is extremely close to mozzarella!” exclaimed Marvin, hopping down on one foot in excitement. “How did you do that?”
The woman shrugged. “Cassava and coconut make good bedfellows…and cheese, apparently.” She laughed, and invited the mice to stay with her in her pantry until her son came home from college. The mice accepted her kind offer, and spent the next few months experimenting with other flavors of the islands to add to their life experience of alternative cheesy products.
- For the full recipe, check out Best of Flash Fiction Kitchen, available here.
This post has been shared on Phoenix Helix’s Paleo-AIP Roundtable.