If you have ever been to a top-quality Italian Restaurant (like us), you surely have noticed that some of the most gourmet pizzas are with Buffalo Mozzarella.
But if you want to be sure, you need to ask about its origins.
Italians like to certify the origin of their “flag products,” hence Mozzarella. So if this delicious world-famous cheese comes from the Region of Campania, it will be labeled as a DOC product (“Controlled designation of origin”). However, in 1996, the EU added an extra-label PDO(Protected Designation of Origin). The Policy Document states they can only produce it in the 3 regions and specifically in the provinces of:
- Napoli, Caserta, Salerno and Benevento, in Campania
- Latina, Frosinone and Rome, in Lazio
- Venafro, in Molise
- Foggia, in Puglia
If your Mozzarella di Bufala is made in other places in Italy or the rest of the world, it will still be good, of course, but not as divine as it should be.
A step back in time
So how did the Buffalos end up in Italy? And why make cheese made out of their milk?
First, we need to point out that we are talking about a particular race of bovine, originally from Asia, called Water Buffalo, as they prefer muddy soils. Their hooves are broad and splayed so they can move freely into a murky environment, and they might even dive on the beds of lakes and rivers looking for food.
There are several theories on how these particular animals arrived in Italy and, above all, in Campania.
Still, as usual, it is pretty much impossible to find out which version is the correct one. Some versions go way back to the Romans. However, according to the Consorzio Tutela Mozzarella di Bufala Camapana DOP, it was most likely to be around the 10th Century, after the invasion of the Moors and the Saracens.
About a half-century later, the swamps in the actual Region of Campania were wholly recovered and became a perfect environment to breed the strong buffalos.
Until the XII Century, the animals were bred and used probably only by the monks of the monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua. We have written proof that the monks offered a piece of bread and a “mozza” to the Pilgrims.
Any produce from Buffalo Milk was costly, and for a while, it was only destined to the rich market. Then in the 15th Century, people started breeding animals in circular constructions called “bufalare.”
More buffalos meant better availability of milk, hence more types of cheese made: provola, caciocavallo, ricotta, and even butter. And it was in 1570 that, for the first time, a cookbook mentioned the word “Mozzarella.”
The term “mozzarella” comes from the Italian verb “mozzare,” an operation still practiced today in all the dairies. It consists of forging the piece of filata curd by hand, detaching the single mozzarella balls with the forefinger and thumb, getting the typical round shape of the Mozzarella.
If you have never seen it before, we suggest you watch the procedure in this video. Unfortunately, the video is only in Italian, but you can understand just by watching the “Mastro Casaro” making a braided mozzarella and then a regular one (skip to minute 8.00)
Nowadays, the Buffalo Mozzarella comes in a variety of shapes and sizes:
- Classical round shape starting from only ten grams (bead, cherry, or bocconcini) to up to 3 kgs
- Knots and braids
- Plain or smoked
How to recognize a real buffalo Mozzarella from a regular Fior di Latte?
Let us give you a few tips!
- More elastic due to higher fat content (almost a 1/3 more)
- A more intense flavor with a higher hint of acidity
- It releases more liquid when cut open
La zizzona di Battipaglia
A romantic tale behind a very famous Mozzarella: la Zizzona di Battipaglia
We all know how Italians are famous for their romantic gestures and tales: think of Romeo and Juliet, for example!
So we have a romantic tale even behind a very particular type of Mozzarella, called la Zizzona, which in Italian means big breast.
The legend tells that the Nymph Bapti-Palia milked the buffalos to produce the Mozza in the morning.
Only the Gods could enjoy this divine food, but one day she met a handsome young shepherd named Tusciano.
He was on the other side of the river, and she fell in love immediately with him. Then, as proof of her love, she told him about the Mozza, and Tusciano ran to the village to share the story with all the people instead of keeping it a secret.
The Gods got furious and punished the two lovers.
They were separated and destined to wander without ever meeting again.
However, the Nymph became the city of Battipaglia (protector of a unique worldwide product), and the river Tusciano runs around it, embracing his lover.
If you want to eat the real Mozzarella di Bufala, come and try some of our exclusive dishes such as “Prosciutto e Bufala”, or our Margherita DOP!