Queso contrabando

Driving across the bridge from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua into El Paso, Texas, you see a lot of signs. This is prohibited, that is required, these documents are necessary, those items are banned.

One of the many things banned by federal regulations is the import of cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. I admit I’m no expert on cheese, pasteurization, or even decent food, but I do suspect that when the FDA bans something that works perfectly well only a few miles away I don’t have any special reason to fear it. (Scary FDA warning here.)

Asadero cheese is one such food item. It’s commonly used in northern Mexican cooking, particularly melted or baked. It is delicious, and all us law-abiding suckers up here have to get by with substitutes that aren’t quite the same thing.

Or, of course, you could live on the border, have relatives or contacts on the other side, and occasionally get a little taste of paraíso.

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One of the many things banned

One of the many things banned by federal regulations is the import of cheeses made with unpasteurized milk.

Specifically, cheeses made with unpasteurized milk and aged less than sixty days. Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk and aged longer than sixty days can be imported legally and are readily available.

Unfortunately, most soft cheeses just won't keep that long, so unpasteurized forms of certain types of cheeses are effectively illegal.