Other than the classic mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, pizza can be topped with other ingredients. To those who love to diversify and prefer stronger flavours, pizza Mami offers a series of alternatives to the classic margherita or napoli pizza. For example, we use taleggio or gorgonzola, smoked provola and pecorino or parmesan. We are going to analyse in detail the characteristics and properties of some of these cheeses so that our foreign customers can get to know some of the Italian cheeses.
The smoked provola is nothing more than a mozzarella that has been naturally smoked, it only needs this to have a rather strong transformation. The smoking procedure consists of exposing the cheese to the smoke of burnt straw, which will darken the outer skin to a golden brown and a pleasant smoky flavour. The name comes from “prova”, or the sample that would be submerged in boiling water to understand whether the curds were ready for the stretching. The provola, as well as mozzarella, is made with cow’s milk but, differently from mozzarella, can be preserved for much longer.
Of ancient origins, we have records since the 18th century, when it appeared in the Neapolitan nativity scenes. It started being produced in Campania, in particular in the valley of Volturno, in the Sorrento Peninsula, in Irpinia and in the regions of the center, in Sannio and Matese, and finally in Lombardia, where we have a DOP provola. Provola is rich in vitamin C, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. It can be consumed as a normal cheese or on pizza. This cheese is used in the “La Fumè” pizza, with mozzarella, smoked provola and speck, and “La Saporita”, with mozzarella, bacon, yellow squash and smoked provola.
Taleggio is a fat soft rind-washed short or mid-aged cheese, as it goes under a process of salt and water rubbing. It has very old origins: some documents from the 13th century talk about this product called “stracchino”, from “strach”, meaning tired, referring to the transhumance of the cattle. The name “taleggio” dates back to the early 20th century, when the dairymen of Val Taleggio, in the province of Bergamo, felt the need to distinguish their product from the ones coming from other areas. Initially it was only produced in Lombardia, in particular in the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Milano and Pavia; in Piemonte in the province of Novara and in Veneto in the province of Treviso. Then, with the advancing of technology, the production spread out to the entire Pianura Padana. In 1988, it was given the DOP branding, and before changing its name it used to be called just stracchino. Taleggio is a very energetic cheese, rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, so it is not recommended for people who are obese or suffer from hypercholesterolemia. On minerals and vitamins, it is rich in sodium and calcium, B2 vitamin or riboflavin. This ancient cheese is used in our revisited “pizza tirolese”, with tomatoes, mozzarella, taleggio, speck, fried eggplants and fresh parsley.
Gorgonzola too has very ancient origins. The major production centre remains the small town of Gorgonzola, just outside Milan, and at the time it was called the Gorgonzola stracchino. It starts getting international attention around the beginning of the 20th century, when it is exported in France, Germany and England. There are two kinds of gorgonzola: classic or spicy and sweet creamy gorgonzola. The spicy and herby version has the fungus Penicillium roqueforti, which gives the product the typical blur stripes and the hot flavour. It is mainly handmade, while the sweet one has a different fungus, that gives it its grey-white stripes and is produced in factories. Gorgonzola is a cheese contaminated with a fungus, and thanks to this active fungus it doesn’t attract any mould or bacteria. It’s a very fat cheese, rich in saturated fats and cholesterol, so it is not recommended in low calorie diets and for people suffering from hypercholesterolemia. The proteins have a very high nutritional value. On minerals, it is rich in sodium and calcium and it’s recommended to eat moderately for the elderly. There are also: niacin, PP vitamin and A vitamin. Gorgonzola is the main ingredient in the Quattro Formaggi (four cheeses) pizza, but not only. Pizzeria Mami uses this cheese for “La Squisita”, with mozzarella, Portobello mushrooms, and the four cheeses sauces (including the gorgonzola).
We only talked about a few of the many cheeses used at Pizzeria Mami and, as you can see from the place of origin of these, the come from the north of centre of Italy in a plethora of incredible shapes and flavours. This is just a taste of the Italian dairy products that is the result of the craftsmanship of the many dairymen that, through generations, pass down a tradition in excellence known all over the world.