San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Zarcero Home to Big Cheese

As fundraisers and crowd pleasers, community festivals try to outdo each other with the biggest attractions. The past year has seen the biggest oxcart, the biggest paella, the biggest arroz con pollo, the longest sausage and the longest melcochón of bread. Now, it’s the biggest cheese.

Zarcero, the mountain town in northcentral Costa Rica famous for its cypress topiaries, boasted making an enormous palmito cheese the weekend of March 4 for Expo Zarcero. It was supposed to weigh in at 200 kilos, or 450 pounds.

Palmito cheese is made of long strips of cheese wound into a ball, the normal size being 400 grams. Though six experienced workers at the dairy cooperative Coopebrisas worked tirelessly, they ran into a problem and had to give up at 132 kilos. The cheese, which they rolled up like a snowball, has to be kept warm to keep its shape, an impossibility when it measures a meter in diameter. It took all six workers to heave the cheese onto the scale. At almost 300 pounds, it’s still a pretty big ball of cheese.

Expo Zarcero is held each year to promote local products and raise money for a home for the aged.


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