It is no secret that cheese is a huge staple in the Italian diet. No pasta, pizza, meat, or soup dish is complete without freshly grated cheese as garnish. Over time, Italy has created some of the most popular cheeses that are used throughout the world today. Here are a few of the cheeses that originated in different parts of Itlay.
1. Mozzarella Cheese
This cheese was born in a small town in southern Italy near Naples. Mozzarella was unlike the traditional cheese that was made with milk and aged for years. These white balls of spongey cheese were originally made with the milk of water buffalos and perish much quicker than others in the cheese family. The fresh flavor and squishy texture make mozzarella perfect for topping summer salads or margarita pizza.
2. Parmesan Cheese
Many would argue that parmesan is the most well-known and commonly used cheese throughout all of Italy. This cheese originated in the Middle Ages in the Parma-Reggio region of Italy. This cheese was created after trying to find a way to make cheese that would last longer before spoiling. The popularity of parmesan spread like wildfire because of the sharp flavor that paired beautifully with Italian pasta dishes.
3. Ricotta Cheese
We can thank Sicilians for the creation of this rich, creamy cheese. The many variations of Ricotta are made with either sheep cow, goat, or buffalo milk. This milk, leftover from the creation of other types of cheese, is then used in the ricotta process. The product of this process is a curd-like spread with a mildly sweet flavor. Ricotta is commonly used as a filling for dishes such as lasagna, manicotti, and ravioli.
4. Asiago Cheese
This cheese is best when left to age for four months, all the way up to two years. Asiago is made on the Asiago Plateau in the Veneto foothills in Italy. It is a harder cheese that less sharp than its cousin, parmesan. Asiago is often used for cheese and crackers or grated on top of salads, soups, and pasta.
Italy has a long history of expert cheese production, with over 400 different types made throughout the country. These popular cheeses made their way into the American diet because of their unique flavors and versatility. Next time you are enjoying a pizza or charcuterie board, don’t forget to thank the Italians for creating these delicious cheeses we all know and love.