By Joanne Fisher exclusively for ILF
Joanne is a Canadian-Italian-American author who is renowned for her steamy romances, her historical fictions and her murder/mysteries. She loves writing Christmas novellas and she gives them an Italian flair since she has espresso running in her veins. She has also penned two non-fiction travel guides titled “Traveling Boomers” along with the corresponding website www.TheTravelingBoomers.com She has also participated various Space Coast Writers Guild anthologies and she’s written one of her own, “Baker’s Dozen Anthology” which is free on Kindle Unlimited. She is the President of the Space Coast Writers’ Guild and she lives in Central Florida with her hubby, Dan and two Dachshunds, Wally and Madison.
Over 2000 years ago, the Ancient Romans invented cheese presses to press cheese curds and transform them into cheese. They were also the first to experiment the process of aging cheese under different conditions in order to produce diverse flavors, textures and aromas. The Romans even created separate cheese kitchen called Caseale and some areas were dedicated to smoking home-made cheese. The Roman Empire continued to refine the cheese making process while dispersing and assimilating their techniques throughout the Empire which covered a vast amount of Europe as well.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, many of these techniques were largely abandoned, only to survive in isolated areas such as in the mountains or monasteries, where monks created monastery cheeses based on the Roman innovations. Individual Italian states developed their own identities and traditions which resulted in cheeses unique to each region of Italy. Local ingredients and customs would play a large role in the types of Italian Cheeses produced throughout the Italian peninsula.
There are hundreds of varieties of Italian cheeses that are produced in each region. We are going to cover the most popular ones below. There are many consortiums or quality control organizations created to protect and oversee production of protected Italian cheese types in Italy. Many Italian cheese types have been awarded PDO (protected designation of origin) status. PDO status establishes traditional methods for the production of an Italian cheese and ensures that it is made with local ingredients within only proscribed regions of Italy.
- Mozzarella di Bufala – legendary cheese made from the milk of the water buffalo.
- Parmiggiano Reggiano – most popular hard aged cheese awarded PDO status by the EU.
- Pecorino – hardened aged cheese made from sheep’s milk. Almost every region of Italy has its own version of Pecorino and each one is more exquisite than the other.
- Provolone – is hung in caves and aged from 3 to 12 months. It is sometimes smoked. Excellent choice for sandwiches or panini.
- Ricotta – means “re-cooked” is a fresh, soft, spreadable cheese which is mild and creamy. It is used in sweets and main course dishes.
- Asiago – a Venetian PDO cheese that comes in soft and hard formats. It is ideal for hot panini and sauces.
These are by far the most popular but dig deeper into the Italian cheese section of your supermarket; you’ll be amazed at what you find for your culinary delights.