Slow Food
   

CHEESE 2005 – Fiore sardo, the oldest cheese in the Mediterranean


Italy - 19 Sep 05

A new Slow Food Presidium has been set up to protect traditional Fiore sardo in its area of origin: the province of Nuoro in general, and the small communes of Gavoi, Ollolai, Ovodda, Lodine, Fonni and Orgosolo, in the Barbagia district, in particular.

Here about thirty breeders still use artisan methods to produce small quantities of the cheese from the milk of mainly native Sardinian sheep. If their activity is to survive, then new markets will have to be found.

At a special ceremony to present the new Presidium at ‘Cheese 2005’ (Bra, Sept. 16-19), Roberto Cadeddu, Spokesperson on Productive Activities for the Provincial Authority of Nuoro, explained that, “The important thing is for this cheese to be known outside our island, while preserving its originality, which dates back to over 3,000 years before Christ.

Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, added that, of all the institutional stands, Sardinia’s has been the most visited at this year’s event.

The presentation was followed by a showing of Antonello Carboni’s documentary Voci della montagna (Mountain Voices), which follows the making of Fiore sardo from the gathering of the flocks for milking to the aging of the forms in cellars.

One of the oldest producers in the Presidium group, Antonio Vacca, confirmed that the techniques shown in the film are still used, though new hygiene norms have forced shepherds to restructure their dairies, sometimes at exorbitant costs.

The President of the Fiore Sardo PDO Consortium, Francesco Rubanu, explained that since, if aged for more than sixty days, raw milk cheese can be guaranteed wholesome, it is to be hoped that the health authorities will interpret the law flexibly to avoid harassing shepherds, who are keepers of invaluable ancient knowledge.

Also present at the conference was Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Italy. The commune of Orune, in fact, is developing an aid project with shepherds in the African country, teaching them dairy techniques to allow them to make their labor more economically productive.