There’s more to Italy than just culture and the arts. They also make great wine – and the great cheese to go with it. After all, they’ve been making this delicious and nutritious food even when their heritage sites were still around in their original form.
But Italian cheeses are worlds away from your usual grocery-bought imitation cheese. Here are just 5 of the most famous ones to whet your appetite:
One of the world’s best known blue cheeses, it takes its name from the eponymous town in Lombardy. It’s not just a type of cheese that’s made from cow’s milk—it actually has a centuries-old history.
Gorgonzola originally turned blue from the naturally-occurring penicillium found in moist caves. Nowadays, cheesemakers use wheels that carry bits of the key mold and age the cheese for a year. It comes in two variants. The first is the softer and smoother dolce, which means “sweet,” while the other is the more aged and intensely-flavored naturale.
As the name implies, this cheese is a Tuscan specialty. You can find it easily from Siena to Prato, and it gets its name from pecoro, which is Italian for “sheep.” Since it’s derived from butterfat-rich sheep’s milk, Pecorino Toscano is oilier than most kinds of cheese and is very thick.
The delicate flavor of young, lightly-aged Pecorino goes well on salads. Aged Pecorino has a stronger flavor; it is grated over pastas and soups in some parts of Italy.
Mozzarella di Bufala
Mozzarella is likely the most recognizable Italian cheese. In Italy, it’s known by the full name of Mozzarella di Bufala, which better reflects where it originally came from: water buffalo milk. It’s also notable for being aged as little as possible, best consumed within the day it’s made.
Though cow’s milk-based Mozzarella is now more common, authentic Mozzarella di Bufala owes a lot of its unique flavor to water buffalo milk. It adds an extra depth of flavor and sweetness that your usual store-bought cheese just can’t copy. Being a spun cheese (and sometimes even spun by hand), it also has a unique pull-apart, soft, and elastic texture.
Aside from Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano is another famous Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. However, you probably know it better by its anglicized name: Parmesan.
Other than its flavorful and rich taste, Parmigiano-Reggiano is of course famed for its countless knockoffs. What most imitators will fail to capture is the unique combination of flavors it possesses—spicy, salty, and tangy—all at the same time.
Though it originated from Southern Italy, Provolone is well-known and enjoyed throughout the whole country. Like Mozzarella, it’s a type of spun cheese, giving it a semi-soft texture.
Provolone is made with either cow’s milk or buffalo’s milk, or even a combination of both. Though it comes in a milder, lightly-aged dolce variant, the more mature piccante has a more distinctive taste that’s thicker, tastier, and saltier – a unique flavor that you won’t forget soon.
In Italy, the production of these cheeses is strictly controlled to ensure the highest quality possible. But of course, there’s more to Italian cuisine than just cheese. So if you want to take a gastronomic tour of Italy, contact us now!