[Sca-cooks] Caciocavallo - Saddlebag cheese!

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Fri May 18 16:56:29 PDT 2012

I just became a member of I don't what but I received this answer:

Ellie Rose Elliott 
- two round, flask-shaped cheeses hanging side by side and dried over a 
sturdy branch. Made traditionally from sheep or cow's milk, it's 
everywhere in the Greek south of Italy, once Magna Graecia, and indeed 
is first mentioned in Hippocrates, I believe, around 500BC. Looks good, 
very decorative, Tastes of nothing much and has a poor texture, sorry.

There is a whole class of cheeses made in the Mezzogiorno which are just 
totally on another planet to anybody brought up on French, English, 
Dutch, Swiss, Norwegian etc cheeses. The local range is in fact very 
narrow: a lot of apparent variety but very little difference between 
them. Cacioricotta, again, looks very pretty, all white, delicate and 
inoffensive, you would think. The salt levels are normally so high 
nobody not born to it can get past the first nibble.

I'm not sure if the problem is connected to the almost complete 
disappearance of sheep farming across the region in the last 75 years. 
The great sheep runs, a form of transhumance introduced by the Hapsburgs 
in the middle ages, came to an end under Mussolini, I think, and the 
land reverted to olive production. So the sheep's milk cheeses have been 
replaced by cow's milk equivalents with a massive loss of character. And 
there's no local tradition of sheep's yoghurt, sadly.

Anybody who can discuss the cheeses of the Mezzogiorno, feel free to 
correct me or make recommendations. I shall be home in the south of 
Puglia next week and welcome suggestions!

My additions:

Washington Irving, when the US ambassador to Spain, rode to Granada with 
cheese in his saddlebags in the latter part of the 19th C where he wrote 
Tales of the Alhambra. Henry IV (1425-1474), older brother of Isabel the 
Catholic of Castile rode with cheese and sausage in his saddle bags 
along with everyone else in the Middle Ages. This cheese beginning to 
make sense. . .

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