What is the Via degli Affinatori?

07 Sep 2011

Before the 2005 edition of Cheese, Slow Food was contacted by a group of affineurs present in the previous editions, who reported the difficulties consumers have in understanding exactly what an affineur is and what he does. In the past editions of the fair, the stalls of the affineurs were not grouped together but surrounded by cheesemakers, making it even harder for consumers to distinguish between the two. It was therefore decided that from then on a special area would be dedicated to the affineurs, led by Neal’s Yard Dairy and Hervé Mons. The experiment was so successful that it was repeated in 2007 and 2009. The group of affineurs has since grown and now includes affineurs from many EU countries.

Who are affineurs and what do they do?

Cheese is the result of two different processes: in the first one, rennet is added to milk in order to obtain the curd. This is then extracted, shaped, salted, drained and laid down to mature. At this point the second process starts, which transforms curd into cheese. This transformation, or maturing process, is called Affinage in French. This process enables affineurs to strengthen the structure of cheeses and to develop particular textures, aromas, flavours and rinds. Without the maturing process, the uniqueness and characteristics of each cheese could not be revealed. Maturing a cheese means leading it towards its “second life”. It requires delicate and appropriate care in relation to the terroir the cheese belongs to; wood, straw, stone and soil are its allies and they help to maintain the atmosphere of the cellars where the cheese is aged.
Maturing requires passion first and foremost. The affineurs are those who give character to cheeses, following the ageing process closely, with great care and an unfailing source of passion.

This year there will be 14 affineurs, four from Italy and ten from other countries:

Arbiora – Italy, Cravero – Bra (Cn), Guffanti – Italy Marcel Petite – France, MonS – France, Kaes Kuche – Germany, Poncelet – Spain, Tradifoods – Portugal, L’Amuse – Holland, Chas&Co – Switzerland, De Kaasmeesters – Belgium, US Cheese group (Atlanta Foods) – USA, Neals Yard Dairy – UK, Paccard – France

The Via Degli Affinatori, the Street of the Affineurs, will be hosted in Piazza Roma.

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