The history of buffalo mozzarella: the white gold of Campania

by Yuri Buono

One of the topics on which you could really end up like the night of the long knives of Bad Wiessee is certainly what the buffalo mozzarella. Or rather, on which one it is the best between "la Salerno" and "la Caserta". So, make yourself comfortable, because at this point it is worth telling you about it the true story of Campania white gold.

The opportunity was given to me by a long chat with Domenico Raimondo, President of Consortium for the Protection of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO. With him, in addition to a pleasant exchange of words - being an ironic and jovial person (God bless those who still make you smile) - I was able to deepen the various aspects of buffalo world.

Mozzarella

How is Mozzarella born?

The origins of mozzarella are directly related to the introduction of buffaloes in Italy. One of the most accredited hypotheses claims that the diffusion, in southern Italy, took place in Norman era, starting from Sicily where the buffaloes had been brought towards the end of the 10th century, following the invasions of the Saracens. Around the 11th century the marshy areas of the Piana del Volturno and the Piana del Sele they became the most suitable for buffalo breeding. The continuous flooding of the rivers, from which the plains are named, created the ideal muddy habitat for an animal that, lacking sweat glands, basked in it to restore its thermal equilibrium.

Initially used as "draft" animals, we arrive at the twelfth century, when the first historical documents appear that testify how the Monks (always them, Deo Gratias) of monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua they used to offer pilgrims a cheese named cropped or proving (when smoked), accompanied by a piece of bread.

The term "mozzarella" it appears for the first time in 1570 in a famous text by Bartolomeo Scappi, cook of the papal court (the same one who mentioned for the first time the sfogliatella). It is from the typical processing, which involves the so-called “Mozzatura” of the stretched curd, which has come to the term used up to the present day.

La storia della mozzarella di bufala: l'oro bianco della Campania
Lavorazione mozzarella
The processing of mozzarella pasta

From the Bourbons to the present day

It was the Bourbons who gave a propulsive thrust to this Campania white gold by creating a first large dairy in the royal estate of Carditello: the site of the Royal Industry of Straw of buffaloes.

And we come to the present day: the buffalo mozzarella from Campania was recognized DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) in 1996 and provides that it can claim this title only that produced in the Campania provinces of Caserta and Salerno, in the Lazio provinces of Latina and Frosinone, in some municipalities of Foggiano and in the Molise municipality of Venafro. This is because they are bordering areas and which historically have managed to demonstrate the presence of buffaloes in the area. Be careful, however, because there is also the buffalo milk mozzarella, that is the one produced or with PDO milk which, however, was used after the canonical 60 hours from milking provided by the specification, or with milk from areas outside the PDO.

Reggia di Carditello
The Royal Palace of Carditello

Salty or sweet mozzarella?

And now what have we said to each other all these beautiful things? What is the best mozzarella? Simple! The one you like best! No kidding.

Why that of Piana del Sele is notoriously more "elegant", While that of the Piana del Volturno it's more "wild". The reason? Hay contains specific elements of a territory and, in some cases, have different organoleptic properties. But there is more! The saltiest government water. It is used in mozzarella from the "aversana”, Both for a matter of taste, but also for a historical reason.

Being Aversa one of the first buffalo outposts for those coming from Naples, the farmers used to go and sell the mozzarella produced in the Campania capital and to keep it longer, they added more salt. It, acting as natural preservative, allowed to be able to sell it too after 36 or 48 hours, since the breeders could not go to Naples every day. We think the displacementsonce did not happen at the speed we are used to today.

Furthermore, this is precisely the reason why the size of half a kilo (before the debut of sealed envelopes it was slightly less) it is called "aversana", as it was the one sold in Naples by Aversa breeders, because it maintained better over time and the salt was distributed more evenly inside.

The connoisseur prefers it to morsel, because it is believed that the one from half a kilo, also left to stand for a day, give the better than himself. And then, let's face it: but when you bite into a "great"Buffalo mozzarella, how do you eat just a bite?

La storia della mozzarella di bufala: l'oro bianco della Campania

Yuri Buono

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