August 16, 2009
On your way to Paestum, from Salerno to Battipaglia, the best thing you can do is to stop at a caseificio and buy some fresh mozzarella. And I mean the real thing: mozzarella di bufala campana DOP. After tasting this it’s so hard to accept that the yellowish-and-gummy cheese you buy shredded for your pizzas can be sold as mozzarella. Made from domestic water-buffalo’s milk, mozzarella cheese is so good that some call it ‘regina’ (queen) of Mediterranean cuisine or ‘oro bianco’ (white gold). Nobody knows how water buffalos ended up in Italy (they live in swampy regions of Asia), but what really matters is that water buffalo’s milk is dense and tasty and it has a higher content of both protein and fat than cow’s milk. Because of this higher content of fat, mozzarella cheese has a creamier texture and flavor than ordinary cheese.
Mozzarella is creamy and soft, light and fresh. In a way, real mozzarella summarizes Italian cuisine: it’s simple and yet perfect because of the high quality of the ingredients. You don’t need anything fancy to taste perfection: just fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of good olive oil and that’s it! Or add some tomatoes from Campania and basil from coastal zones of Italy and you get the most famous Italian salad: insalata caprese.
The name mozzarella comes from the Italian verb mozzare (to cut), because of how the cheese-makers cut the cheese with their hands to shape the mozzarella.
Caprese salad in Technicolor