Gaelic class was cancelled tonight. Only 3 of us could make it, and 4 is the absolute minimum.
This gave my enquiring mind some time to find out about the cheese I bought last night. I hadn’t thought much about it at the time, and had actually assumed it is Polish until I looked at the label more closely.
It is Talsu Ritulis. The history of the dairy which produces it and the town where it is made reflect Latvia’s history.
Talsu dairy was founded in 1922 during Latvia’s first period of independence, and until 1940 they worked as a cooperative society of Talsi dairy farmers.
From 1940 (when the country was annexed by the Soviet Union under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) until 1993 it was a branch of the Liepājas Dairy. The Talsi Dairy Cooperative Society was reinstated on March 8, 1993 (a couple of years after independence was restored).
In 1998 a reorganization took place, as the result of which AS Talsu Piensaimnieks was founded (if I remember correctly a Latvian “AS” is like a private limited company in the UK). Production of their raw, semi-hard cheese Talsu Ritulis began in 1995.
Talsi is a town in Kurzeme, west and north of Rīga, which is 120km away. The population is just over 9,000.
In 1935 it had 4,116 inhabitants (82% ethnic Latvians, 12% Jews and 3% Germans). It was occupied by German troops from June 1941 right up until the end of World War II on 8 May 1945 - “liberated” by the Red Army and annexed again into the USSR. During the Nazi occupation the town's entire Jewish population was murdered.
Well, the cheese is delicious. I’m glad freedom of movement of goods brought it all the way from Talsi to Kirkcaldy.