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If Parmigiano is the king of cheeses, Mozzarella is its Queen. Fresh, sensuously rich, soft enough to melt in your mouth, mozzarella can be fior di latte, made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow's milk; affumicata (smoked mozzarella); or the best of all, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella). The expression "mozzarella" derives from the verb "mozzare" (to cut off) or, in other words, the operation that is still performed in all dairies where the cheese is manually handled with a characteristic movement and pieces of stringy curd are then detached with index fingers and thumbs to form the individual mozzarellas in their typical round form.

The 12th century, when the Italian buffalos (a breed of Water Buffalo called "Italian Mediterranean") were increasingly appreciated for their milk yield and thereby consolidating their presence in the coastal plains of the Volturno and the Sele rivers, produced the first historic documents that evidence how the monks of the San Lorenzo in Capua Monastery offered a cheese called "mozza" or "provatura" (when smoked), accompanied by a slice of bread, to the pilgrims from the metropolitan capitol who, in accordance with ancient tradition, arrived in procession every year at the Convent's church.

There are various pieces of evidence from the 14th century that testify to the commercialization of buffalo milk derivates, usually destined for the prosperous Neapolitan and Salerno markets. For obvious reasons of viability, the only ones reaching them were the "mozze" and, above all, the "provature" the smoking of which extended the product's commercial life.

However, it would be necessary to wait until 1570 before the expression "mozzarella" appears for the first time in the famous text by Bartolomeo Scappi, chef to the Papal court.

It was only towards the end of the 18th century that mozzarella became a widely consumed product also thanks to the establishment, on the part of the Bourbons, of a large buffalo farm with an experimental dairy attached for the transformation of the milk, at the Reggia di Carditello, the royal estate of the Spanish dynasty in the province of Caserta.

With Italy's unification, the "Taverna" was established in Aversa. This was an authentic wholesale market for mozzarella and other dairy products from the same milk, of which special note should be taken of the 'ricotta' for which quotations were established on a daily basis in relation to both production and demand. Commerce was regulated on the basis of proper contracts that came into force from 1 September to 31 August of the following year and were drawn up between the buffalo owners, who transformed the milk, and the product distributors.

The mozzarella was collected from the "pagliare" or "difesa" sites of production, already weighed and wrapped in marsh rush or cranberry leaves and carefully placed in wicker or chestnut crates, to be transported to the shop premises.

Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP - The consortium

The Consorzio di Tutela della Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, created in 1981, is the only organization acknowledged by the Department for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies for the protection, safeguarding, improvement and promotion of this extraordinary cheese from Central and Southern Italy that is loved throughout the world.

The Consortium’s purpose is the production and commercialization of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, the defense of the denomination in Italy and abroad, the encouragement of continuous improvement in the Mozzarella’s production methods and the consequent qualitative improvement of its production. It also aims to constantly check on production and commercialization and, in particular, on the correct usage of the Denomination of Origin.

Mozzarella di Bufala Campana was awarded the prestigious European Denomination of Origin status in 1966. This award is made in order to officially recognize the organoleptic and merchandise qualities of this cheese and mainly depends on the environmental conditions and the traditional working methods existing in the specific area of production.

Mozzarella di Bufala Campana represents the most important Dop brand in central-southern Italy and is the fourth at national levels and the third amongst the Italian Dop cheeses.






Date 31 October 2005
Source Flickr
Author Luigi Versaggi
Reviewer Mac9