For the Love of Cheese, Their Children, & Each Other
With one of Modesta’s freshly made tortillas, it’s impossible not to fall in love with quesillo. She and her husband, Jaime, have made the soft cheese for the past three years now, and have mastered the art.
Modesta and Jaime were always an entrepreneurial duo, traveling to sell fish and other products for many years. When Modesta started with her first loan from Adelante, she wanted to try something new. She remembered her husband’s stories of making quesillo as a boy, and she thought there could be a good demand in their neighborhood.
They began one day after purchasing some fresh milk from a neighbor. Jaime showed Modesta the process of curdling the milk and how to tightly press the solids together by hand. She learned to squeeze out the extra liquid and cook it all over a flame until it became soft. Together they laid out the softened cheese and divided it into sections for sale. It sold out immediately.
Now together they have two sons, one in kindergarten and the other in 5th grade. She and her husband never had the chance to complete their schooling, but they plan to provide the opportunity for their children. Modesta wakes up at 5 each morning to help prepare the boys for school. Then she and Jaime go straight to work on making the day’s fresh batch of quesillo. The cheese has brought Modesta and Jaime a daily ritual that they would not trade for the world. Plus it has brought in the income that has let them provide a secure home for their children and to begin saving for their education.
Modesta has invested her loans from Adelante in other economic activities as well. She bought a piglet one day for $12 and fed it the leftover liquids from the cheese. The boys helped her fatten the pig until it reached 200 pounds. They were then able to sell it for about $60. Whenever there is a soccer game or community event, Modesta makes sure that she and Jaime are out selling the cheeses. The couple also takes advantage of these occasions to barbeque and sell lunch to the crowd. Customers flock, knowing that no matter what, on the side there will always be a few hot tortillas and a generous piece of fresh quesillo.
We celebrate ambitious women like Modesta, and admire the support and companionship of her loyal partner in life, Jaime. Maybe it’s cheesy, but Happy Valentine’s Day, you two!