A brief history of Italian cheese

My cousin runs a wonderful online shop called EyeItalia where she blogs about life in Italy as well as has gorgeous gift items. This week’s entry is on Italian cheeses. It’s full of enticing details that a) make me hungry and b) will probably turn up in a story. Check this out and then swing over to read the whole thing.

Sheepskin Apron for Making Sheep’s Milk Cheese
Andrea was a shepherd who made cheese in a small Tuscan hamlet close to my home.  We crossed paths one day on his way to the public fountain and I immediately knew that he made sheep’s cheese: he wore the animal’s unmistakable smell. Handsome, fit, blue-eyed and intent on his chore, he also wore a sheepskin apron with the wool side towards his body and when asked if he made cheese, he simply nodded and motioned for me to follow him.

La Ricotta: 5 PM Daily Ritual

In a dark corner of his cavernous barn, a huge copper cauldron sat on a blazing fire. He was using the whey remaining from making pecorino, boiling it and making “la ricotta”…the re-cooked, final product of the cheese-making process. Stirring constantly, Andrea gradually scooped the clumps of ricotta as they formed and floated in the boiling liquid, and then placed them in little baskets to strain, compacting ever so gently. Dipping a big ladle directly into the pot, he spooned out a soft, warm, delicious taste for me to try. In the next fifteen minutes a handful of locals trickled into the barn, their spoons and bowls from home in hand, ready for today’s batch: a 5 PM ritual that had happened everyday for as long as anyone could remember.

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