The Slow Food Presidia at Cheese
23 Jul 2013 | English
During Slow Food’s event Cheese, the biggest international cheese fair in the world, Via Princìpi di Piemonte and Via Marconi in the heart of Bra are filled with cheeses (and breads, honeys and preserves) from over 60 Italian and International Slow Food Presidia.
Click here for the complete list of Slow Food Presidia present at Cheese: http://cheese.slowfood.it/en/slow-food-presidia/
The Slow Food Presidia support quality production at risk of extinction; protect unique regions and ecosystems; recover traditional processing methods; and safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. At Cheese, the Presidia products will be presented with the new narrative label, a system for food labeling packed with information about producers, breeds, production techniques, places of origin and animal welfare.
The stands at Cheese are manned by the small-scale producers who with their passion and commitment are resisting standardization and the homogenization of taste, each representing their own local area, traditions and ancient knowledge. At stand after stand, visitors are able to discover the extraordinary biodiversity of cheese production around the world, divided into different geographical areas: from Africa to the Balkans via the Mediterranean and the Alps and on to the pastures of Northern Europe.
Livestock herding traditions have survived across most of the mountainous areas of the Balkans. In Bulgaria, up in the Stara Planina mountains, we find sheep’s cheeses made with milk from the Tetevan breed, one of the smallest in Europe, produced in summer mountain pastures and then aged in cellars in the village of Tcherni Vit. Here, the specific climactic conditions and humidity lead to the development of noble molds, producing Zeleno Sirene, green cheese (a Slow Food Presidium). Also in Bulgaria, in the Pirin mountains, lives a sheep breed at risk of extinction, the Karakachan (also a Presidium). Just 800 head remain of this small sheep, whose thick, fragrant milk makes unforgettable yogurt. The tradition of transhumance, the seasonal migration of livestock, lives on in Macedonia, near the border with Kosovo, in the Mavrovo nature park. In the summer, Sharplaninska sheep are taken to graze in mountain pastures, where the shepherd-cheesemakers produce the feta-like Belo Sirene, and incredible Kashkaval, a Slow Food Presidium. Branza, a typical sheep’s cheese, is made throughout the Carpathians in Romania, but the best comes from the Bucegi mountains, where Slow Food Presidium Branza de Burduf is aged in fir bark. The participation of the Presidia from the Balkans at Cheese is made possible through the project ESSEDRA, financed by the European Union, which was launched by Slow Food and the partners in the respective countries to map and value the biodiversity in the Balkans and Turkey.
In Northern Europe, Presidia are often established to protect breeds that have adapted well to cold climates and harsh environments, breeds that produce quality milk and represent small but interesting traditions. Here, problems are mostly legal, with strict laws governing raw-milk cheese production. Presidia present at Cheese will include Cheddar, Irish raw-milk cheeses and Geitost from Norway (the most unusual of them all, sweet and caramelized, more like a dessert than a cheese).
The Alp Region:
It is particularly the Alps, the heart of Europe, that are still home to cheesemakers who still produce cheese using the techniques of a hundred, five hundred or even a thousand years ago, preserving ancient traditions, a heritage for the whole continent. Cheesemakers climb up to the mountain pastures, milk their animals the first time, make cheeses (always without artificial starter cultures), salt them and set them on wooden boards to age. Then they milk the animals again and make more cheeses. As the days pass, the first cheeses must be turned, cleaned, perhaps wiped. And so they go on for three months, sometimes more. Plenty of great mountain cheeses from Italy (Bitto, Macagn, Cevrin and others), France (cheeses from the Auvergne made with milk from Salers cows) and Switzerland (Emmentaler, Sbrinz, Vacherin) can be found at the event in Bra.
A huge variety of cheeses are made around the Mediterranean – Greece alone has 30 PDOs – and livestock herding has ancient origins here. In fact, only in the Middle East have people been herding animals for longer. Different climates and a fragmented social history mean that around 1,200 of the world’s 2,000 cheeses are produced here.
In Africa, the situation of dairy production is challenging and differs from the one in Europe: Climate change is causing serious problems for herders, the custom of milking goats is being lost and food-safety issues are non-trivial. Nonetheless, milk and yogurt are commonly consumed throughout the continent, and many fascinating dairy products are produced in Africa. Among the Presidia stands, there are the Ethiopian Karrayu herders with their camel’s milk and the Pokot of Kenya with their ash yogurt.
To apply for accreditation for Cheese, please visit the following website:
Change the world through food
Learn how you can restore ecosystems, communities and your own health with our RegenerAction Toolkit.