Ah mozzarella! One of my favorite types of cheese. Those round mounds of cheese in a bowl all by their lonesome are enough to get my mouth watering. I have often wondered how such a divine cheese was thought up, other than coming directly from heaven. So I looked into it. Legend has it that mozzarella was made accidently. Cheese curds supposedly fell into a pail of hot water somewhere in a Naples factory and, voila, mozzarella was born. The angels must have been singing in southern Italy that day.
Mozzarella is made from the rich milk of water buffalos; it was not made from pasteurized milk since back in the day there was little or no refrigeration, hence the cheese had a relatively short shelf-life. It is said that it rarely left the southern region for this reason alone. Today technology has obviously improved, however even to this day the most highly prized buffalo mozzarella is still found south of Naples near Battipaglia and Caserta. There they have small factories that are still pounding out centuries-old traditions making this prized possession daily for local customers who will line up at the factory doors to buy the delicacy straight from the source.
There is some documentation that mozzarella was in a 1570 cookbook from Bartolomeo Scappi, who was a cook for the papal court. It has also been recorded that in 1889 mozzarella was used in a pizza with tomato and basil in Naples.
No matter where it was found or how it came to be there is one fact that always holds true, mozzarella is a godsend. And it never tastes quite as good in America as in Italy and quite exclusively as in the southern towns. I have been having mine in a town called Baiano for years and nothing is better. This week’s recipe Fusilli con Pomodoro e Mozzarella Fresca puts mozzarella’s fresh taste to work for you, so be sure to try it out and savor the flavor.
Donna Picciocchi, Editor