Слоу Фуд Интернационал: Seven Treasures to Preserve

From Switzerland to Macedonia, seven new dairy Presidia are presented at Cheese

It is the first day of Cheese. Those who have been participating in the event for years meet again in the late-summer heat of Bra. Many Presidia producers stop to embrace as they finish setting up the stands they will host for four days.

“This event is interesting for producers such as ourselves that find it difficult to access the market, but above all it’s an extraordinary happening for the human warmth that one breathes. Its not work for us, it’s a party,” affirmed the smiling François Ferdier, producer of the French Pélardon affiné Presidium, attending his third edition of Cheese.

This year, however, the official opening of Cheese is an even more cherished moment for those in the audience coming from the Presidia Market. Seven new dairy Presidia were officially presented to the public and press; a rousing applause welcoming the new products protected by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. Seven new products that are a true reflection of as many regions and traditional cultures.

Campania Apennines Noble Milk Presidium was born through a project to recognize the qualities of milk produced by cows that graze in the clean mountain pastures. “The qualitative values of milk are extremely devalued, and we hope to offer new economic prospects for an area heavily affected by depopulation with this product,” said Nino Pascale, president of Slow Food Campania. “The Presidium is the result of years of hard work, and its launch is a starting point to reassess the production chain and the territory,” he concluded.

From the south to Alto Adige in Italy’s far northwest, the region that is home to the Villnösser Sheep Presidium. This curiously named breed, literally meaning “sheep with glasses”, is at the center of a new project focused on promoting the small sheep’s delicate meat.

Another new Italian Presidium is the Cimina Caciocavallo, which involves around 12 producers in the Aspromonte National Park who are working to protect the exceptional quality of the local caciocavallo, its production methods and unique form.
It seems that the common southern Italian cheese caciocavallo doesn’t originate in this region but in the Balkans. Its preparation may have spread initially via the nomads on horseback.

From Macedonia comes kashkaval, possibly the ancestor of all pulled-curd cheeses, along with belo sirenje, similar to Greek fetta, and kiselo mleko, similar to a yogurt, which together are now protected by the Mavrovo Reka Mountain Pasture Cheeses Presidium, taking its name from the wonderful Mavoro National Park.

France, the featured country of Cheese 2011, is home to another new project, the Auvergne Salers Breed Cheeses Presidium to promote raw milk products from these cattle. The Salers breed, usually raised for meat, produces exceptional milk that can only be milked when the cattle have calves. “We are fighting to preserve one of the best cheeses of our country,” says affineur Hervé Mons presenting the project. “However, we have to first promote the milk, foster respect for a ‘living’ not simply ‘legal’ milk.”

The final two new dairy Presidia come from Switzerland: Bregaglia Valley Mascarplin or Mascarpeland Mountain Pasture Sbrinz Presidia are two products of extraordinary quality. The Sbrinz is the oldest among Swiss cheesemaking traditions. Until the middle of the fourteenth century it was produced exclusively in the Alps; today just four mountain dairies carry out the cheesemaking, the majority of which has moved down into the valleys.

Mascarplin, also called mascarpel, is an aged “milk ricotta” (made from raw milk rather than whey) from whole goat’s milk. It is produced from spring, after the weaning of the kids, until late autumn in small quantities.