Keshi Yená Is Your New Favorite Way to Eat Cheese for Dinner
By: Kelly Magyarics, Chowhound.com
Along with Aruba, Bonaire, and a few other tropical spots, Curaçao is part of the Dutch Caribbean, a collection of islands formerly part of the Netherlands. Dutch culture and cuisine is still prevalent on Curaçao, visible in its architecture like the pastel-colored buildings lining the waterfront in Willemstad, its gin and tonic culture (the juniper-based spirit is, after all, a derivative of the Dutch spirit genever), its iconic namesake blue liqueur, and dishes like bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs dipped in mustard) and stroopwafels (a sweet treat made by slathering a thin layer of caramel between two thin sweet wafer cookies).
But keshi yená is the island’s signature dish, a mash-up of cultures that’s also a historical remnant and reminder of Curaçao’s slave-trading past.
What Is Keshi Yená?
Back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, round wheels of cheese like Dutch Edam or Gouda were shipped to the island for the wealthy landowners to serve at parties and dinners. “The Dutch ‘masters’ only used and bothered with the soft inside of the cheese and scooped that part out for their consumption, [while] the hard outside rind was put aside and returned to the kitchen to be thrown away,” explains Hensley Birginia, junior sous chef at Avila Beach Hotel in Willemstad. “The slaves kept the hollowed-out cheese shell and filled it with table scraps from the luxurious dinner their landlords hosted”—generally chicken, meat, olives, vegetables, and..(click here for the rest of the article)