If you can’t travel through Italy anytime soon, you can recreate a bit of the experience through cuisine. Italian culture is so intertwined with food that it’s impossible to know where a tradition originates from without understanding how food is involved. While we see all Italian flavors as one larger sort of food, the various regions in Italy yield different practices and flavors. To understand the diversity of Italy’s food is to understand how each region does what it does best. Curious about each region’s best cheese? Let’s take a walk through Italy via the best cheeses.
Fontina – Val d’Aosta
The best place to start is Val d’Aosta, where fontina is so well perfected its tough to find anything that can match it in other parts of Italy, let alone the world. The cheese is a nutty flavor central to a lot of Italian dishes, so hopefully, you’re in the mood for something sweet. The cheese is made solely from cow’s milk, unlike some other Italian cheeses.
Milan – Gorgonzola
While Northern Italy provinces like Lombardy and Piedmont produce gorgonzola now, it began in a village outside Milan. It’s actually where it got its name! Gorgonzola gets its unique flavor and blue color from its creation using unskimmed milk. While it’s often made with cow’s milk, you can also find alternative versions made from goat milk.
Naples – Mozzarella
As non-Italian diners, most believe mozzarella to be the universal Italian cheese. In fact, it’s really a native to Southern Italy and Naples. Originally, mozzarella was made with buffalo’s milk. Nowadays, it’s made more often than not with cow’s milk, although you can find the real thing in some authentic Italian-American eateries. The cheese is favored for its salty content, and it’s a really stretchy cheese. That means a little goes a long way, making it a favorite for home cooking.
Sicily – Ricotta
Ricotta’s creamy texture hails from Sicily. The cheese is unlike a lot of hard cheeses in flavor because of how it’s made. You can create this cheese using any milk available, including that of goats, cows, buffalo, or even sheep. In Italy, it’s used a lot for breakfast on toast, or as a topping for fish entrees at dinnertime. Of course, it bakes well too.
Rome – Pecorinos
Most often noted for its Roma form, pecorinos is a sheep’s milk cheese that’s often found in dishes calling for grated cheese toppings. It’s also wonderful baked into dishes as well!