Cheese is back in Bra, Piedmont, from September 16 to 19, 2011. The international biennial event organized by the City of Bra and Slow Food Italy is now in its eighth edition. Dedicated to “milk in all its shapes and forms,” it has created an international network of cheesemakers and artisans who gather in Bra every two years to present their products, meet co-producers (consumers), discuss the challenges of the trade and market prospects and share solutions to problems old and new.
Cheese 2011 illustrates and explores the complexity of knowledge, needs, problems and resources linked to dairy products, turning the spotlight onto the three pillars on which dairy quality rests: milks, crafts and places. You’ll find concrete examples of these three plurals at Cheese, among the producers and cheeses and their stories.
Milks. Not all milk is the same. It can come from cows, sheep, goats, even yaks (e.g. the Slow Food Presidium in Tibet), and every animal species has a rich variety of breeds, many of which are at risk of extinction. These animals are often unsuited to the living conditions imposed by industrial farming. Their milk produces cheeses with a unique taste and story, the result of pastures and practices that constitute an invaluable environmental and cultural heritage. Most importantly, raw milk is a guarantee of the highest possible sensory quality and a close link to the land. Slow Food has led the battle for the recognition of raw-milk cheese quality, bringing it to an international level since the first edition.
Crafts. Herders are the guardians of the rural and mountain environments, and pasturing animals helps protect the countryside from abandonment and erosion. Sometimes the herder is also the cheesemaker. Cheesemakers are the repositories of centuries-old empirical wisdom, refined and passed down orally through the generations. Then there are the affineurs, the cheese agers, who guarantee an income to producers and carefully tend cheeses as their flavors and fragrances improve. They also promote the cheeses to restaurants and retailers. Cheese wants to give rightful recognition to workers in these and other dairy-related trades, bringing them to the center of the stage.
Places. Alpine dairies, mountain pastures, rural landscapes. Sustainable development can be driven by the creation and implementation of local micro-economies based on quality, environmental protection and the maintenance of young populations in marginal areas. Promoting local products can mean creating work and social opportunities for communities.
The focus of Cheese 2011 is France, a country that has long protected raw-milk cheese production, promoted the work of cheesemakers and affineurs and treasured regional differences.
Cheese will be held in the historic center of Bra, the Piedmontese town where the Slow Food international movement was founded and where its association headquarters are based. Around 200 exhibitors will be setting up stalls in the streets and squares of Bra, offering their products for tasting and purchase.
In the Great Hall of Cheese, visitors can sample 150 cheeses from around the world, while choosing from 700 different wines. For bookable events like Taste Workshops, visit http://cheese.slowfood.it and choose your language from the options in the top right.