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4 things you didn't know about Italian cheese

Posted by GLflorence on July 22, 2020

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Italian cheese is famous all around the world. Every region has its own cheeses, and it’s almost impossible to try them all because there are way too many! What we know for sure, though, is that Italian cheeses are all delicious and worth tasting. Here’s some curiosities about our “formaggio” you may didn’t know.

Where does the name “formaggio” come from?

Formaggio is the Italian name for cheese: quite different from the English translation, ey? Well, you have to know that “formaggio” comes from the Greek “phormos”, which was the name of the box where the curd was put to give it a wheel shape – in Italian, in fact, we say “forma” to indicate the cheese wheel. On the other hand, the English word “cheese”, as well as the Spanish “queso” come from the Latin “caseus": that’s why these words are so different from the Italian translation.

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The birth of cheese

Cheese was born a long time ago. Its origins, indeed, date back to more than 6000 years ago! We can’t say that cheese was invented: it was more a random discovery instead. Legend states that formaggio was born in the Middle East thanks to a merchant who needed to trade some milk throughout the desert. He put it inside a wineskin, where the milk transformed during the journey using the heat and the enzymes. When the merchant arrived to his destination, he opened the wineskin and found an incredible surprise!

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There are different types of cheeses

Tuscany is famous for its pecorino, a cheese made with sheep milk, as well as Sardegna and Sicilia. The place where formaggio is produced is very important, because it changes the flavour completely. Sardegna, for example, is an island, and its vegetation is very different from the Tuscan hills one. The result is that Pecorino Sardo has a very strong taste, while the Tuscan one has a more delicate flavour. We cannot say this rule applies to all the cheeses produced in the two regions, because every farm has its own peculiarities, but let’s stick with general truths. The Northern part of Italy mostly produces cow cheeses, due to the presence of the Dolomites. Less easy to find and more expensive is caprino, a cheese made with goat milk. Formaggio can be aged or not, and can be conbined with honey and marmelades.

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Marzolino and the Tuscan tradition

Marzolino is a tasty pecorino made in Tuscany, in the area between Florence and Siena. This cheese takes its name from the month March, marzo, when it’s produced. In March, in fact, the new grass is tastier and soft, giving the milk a different flavour and, consequently, a super tasty pecorino. The crust can be enriched with tomato sauce and olive oil, which gives it a peculiar red colour. This soft cheese is aged from 20 days to 6 months, and has a typical rounded shape.

Who wants a bite of Italian tradition? Contact us to enrich your experience in Italy with a cheese and –why not – wine tasting!

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