The story about Trnič, the most famous cheese from the mountain plateau Velika planina in the heart of the Kamnik Alps, is actually a love story. The herdsmen who were spending their summers in the mountains were making the cheese in their spare time, longing for their love ones in the valley. So it might not be a coincidence that they were making the pear-shaped hard cheese that resembled … a female breast! According to the tradition, the herdsmen gave Trnič to their wives and girlfriends at the end of the pasturing season as a sign of love and faithfulness, and also as a promise of marriage.
For the foodies: the story of the most romantic cheese in the Alps
The summer was slowly fading away and the time to leave the mountains was closer and closer. The herdsmen were becoming impatient; they couldn’t wait to leave the green pastures in the mountains and return home. One of them was particularly anxious – there was a girl in the valley he wanted to propose. So he had to bring a pair of special cheese in the valley as a prove of his sincere intentions …
Trnič is made of cottage cheese, cream and salt and is embellished with special decorations. It was always presented in pairs: two were embellished with the same decorations. The herdsmen kept one and gave the other one to their sweethearts. If the girl accepted the cheese, she consented to the herdsmen’s courting.
This is a lovely story, isn’t it? Nowadays it’s just a story, the herdsmen don’t spent the whole summer on the plateau anymore and they all have mobile phones so they can check on their wives and girlfriends regularly. Besides, a nice ring might be much more persuasive than a cheese you can only grate. But, luckily, the cheese and the story about it survived and Trnič is now one of the most notable typical dishes in the region. And the male foodies could use the story for the romantic gesture to their love ones!
How to experience the cheese making on Velika planina?
I had a privilege to observe the cheese decorating some years ago. There was a man on Velika planina making and ornamenting the cheese, dressed in the traditional herdsmen clothes. The experience and the story were actually much more interesting than the taste itself. Not that it’s bad, not at all! It resembles the Parmesan cheese and it’s often used like it. (Don’t bite it. You might break your teeth!)
If you’d like to see how the cheese is made in the mountains you should call Kamnik Tourism for a prearranged visit. There’s a possibility to experience it without an arrangement but it’s not very likely. Although you’ll enjoy Velika planina just by being there as well. (And you can buy Trnič in the souvenir shop!) The green pastures, the blooming meadows, the beautiful alpine views, the traditional herdsmen architecture and the delicious gastronomy might do for a perfect day.
Taste Kamnik: traditional cuisine, combined with modern trends
Trnič cheese is the part of a project of evoking the traditional cuisine of the medieval town at the foothills of the Alps, Kamnik, and combining it with modern trends. Selected dishes represent the entire Kamnik region and the town of Kamnik itself. For more information about the project and the dishes it’s best to visit the Tourism Kamnik website. Some restaurants and mountain huts have the selected dishes on their menus; it’s also advisable to ask in Kamnik where to eat to have a proper culinary experience