EXPAT FOODIE: OF FAKE MOZZARELLA AND TRUE LOVE

by missfootloose on January 21, 2011 · 23 comments

in Expat foodie, Food, life abroad

Mozzarella Girls

Do you love mozzarella?  I mean real mozzarella?

If you’re not a lucky expat living in Italy, have you ever had the good fortune of visiting the Naples area and been introduced to mozzarella di bufala?  Well, then you’ll know that the stuff that passes for mozzarella available in supermarkets in the US and the rest of Europe, locally produced from cow’s milk, is nothing but an insipid, bland, flavorless, dull, vapid, lifeless imitation of the Real Thing. A travesty! I’m sorry, but that’s just how I feel about it.

The Real Thing is made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo, and they’ve got such bovines in Italy.  I’ve seen the beasts up close, wallowing in muddy water, because that is what they like.  I saw them when I visited a mozzarella dairy in Campania once and it was fascinating to see how they made the cheese in a pristine dairy just feet away from the big wallowing beasts.

You could purchase these fresh soft white lumps of cheese in the shop right there.  You could also buy a luscious lump on a soft bread roll and eat it on the spot with a cafè to go along with it. Available also was buffalo yogurt, buffalo ricotta and so on.

The owner of the caseificio was strolling around the place, surveying his kingdom.  He was gorgeous, and did not at all look like his buffaloes.  He was tall and clean, with long, wavy dark hair, just like a Harlequin hero – be still my heart. He was wearing jeans and an open-necked white shirt, not tucked in, with the sleeves rolled up, very Italianish.

One day I was introduced to another owner of a dairy that produced mozzarella.  A very nice man, if not Harlequin hero material.  And would you believe, some months later he offered my prince the job of managing his dairy.  Wouldn’t you just think I’d jump for joy?  Imagine, a fresh supply of mozzarella whenever I wanted it!

Well, this dairy was not located in Italy, but in a small isolated town in the mountains of Armenia, a long haul away from the capital of Yerevan (where we were living at the time), a town not exactly a sophisticated metropolis itself.

And the mozzarella they produced in that dairy in the mountains, I’m sorry to say, was the fake stuff.  Made from cow’s milk.  Not that my husband cared.  He’s a business man, and if people will buy the cow-milk stuff, that’s fine by him.  Business is business.  However, taking that management job was not the career move he was looking for, and even if it was a dream job, it was not a dream location.  You might wonder why not, looking at the photo below.  Yes, the town is located amid stunning mountainous scenery, is a beloved place for Armenians to go vacationing, and for the outdoorsy types it’s a great area for hiking.

But live there?  It’s an isolated place with few if any foreigners and making friends with the local people is not something done in a couple of months.  It’s a long, if scenic, trek to Yerevan, and for all practical purposes, our social life would die an instant death.  And in the winter . . . . well, you might not be able to get out of town just any day because of the snow in the mountains and the hazardous driving conditions.  My mate was well aware that for me especially this was not going to be an ideal life if he took the job, which he was not ready to do.  So he declined.

“I’d lose my wife,” he told the mozzarella man.

“No problem,” said the mozzarella man, “we’ll find you another one.”

*

You’ll understand, dear reader, that I was quite worried when my mate told me this story when he came home that night (carrying a bag full of fake mozzarella.)  Wouldn’t you think that the offer of a new wife along with a new job would be tempting for a globetrotting man with an adventurous spirit?

“So, how did you respond to that?” I asked, trying to sound casual.  I have my pride,  you know.

“I told him, ‘I’ve had her for so long, I’d better keep her.’”

So, I think I’ll keep him, too.  And buy him one of those sexy, white Italian shirts.

* * *

Do you have a cheese story?  Or a true love story?  Or an Italian story?  Or any kind of story?  Entertain me.  I’m easy

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

edj January 21, 2011 at 2:01 am

My man got so many propositions when we were in Mauritania! Everyone wanted him to take a second wife. When he pointed out that I might have something to say about it, the typical response was “then don’t tell her!”
sigh…I love cheese…

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Rosa January 21, 2011 at 4:39 am

You tell the best stories!

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Doris Gallan January 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

My cheese stories aren’t as good as yours but I was surprised, in my early travels to Mexico, by how many different cheeses they have here. To the uninitiated, they all look the same: white with a Spanish name. But the taste and texture is very different. It’s no wonder, I told myself, that Mexicans in the USA laugh when they see our orange cheddar on Mexican food. “That’s not cheese!” one said to me. Now I know why.

Doris, the Boomer Travel Coach

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missfootloose January 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

Hi Doris! I remember the first time I came to the US from Holland, and being turned off by the orange cheese. I still only buy the pale colored cheddar, never the orange!

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guyana gyal January 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm

What I’d like to know is, have you met many men who look like Harlequin material? Yes, I’d rather talk about good-looking chaps rather than
cheese 🙂

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missfootloose January 22, 2011 at 8:26 am

How bad is the cheese there in Guyana? What about the men? 😉

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carolina January 22, 2011 at 11:46 am

Great story.

Did you know that in Opende (Groningen) of all places, lives an Italian who has a herd of water buffallo(s) and makes the real Mozzarella di Bufala? Delish! And very fresh.

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Miss Footloose January 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Fantastic! I know they have a few of these farms in the US as well, but not many. I have found imported mozzarella di bufala in the odd American store, Costco, for instance, but it is super expensive. The stuff must be flown in I am sure, because it is considered fresh only for a couple of days.

I’ll check out if I can buy the Opende buffalo cheese next time I’m in Holland.

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Mara January 23, 2011 at 6:13 am

Most of those farms our found in Southern Italy, but I went to one that was in Northern Italy, near Ferrara. Great looking beasts, lovely and cute calves, horrid horrid smell, old and decrepit milking stall and fantastic yummy mozzarella. No harlequin farmer though, we had to wait until the pecorino farm for that. He didn’t have any sheep though, he brought in all the sheep’s milk from other farmers.

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missfootloose January 26, 2011 at 10:53 am

I remember the smell! Of the buffalo, not the cheese. There are some very smelly cheeses in this world too, come to think of it, but fortunately mozzarella is not among them. So, did you try to snare the pecorino man?

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Aly January 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Haha, I loved this story. It’s a very good thing your husband didn’t trade you, especially since there is a good chance he might have ended up with a water buffalo.

I am sad that I have not experienced real mozzarella; that is a tragedy. But, I have experienced real llama cheese (it is fun to say, not fun to eat).

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missfootloose January 26, 2011 at 10:34 am

Llama cheese! I’ve never hear of that! I’ll have to put it on my list of to-try-foods. Even if it is not yummy, it’s another fun experience, and — a you said — fun to say you had it.

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Welshcakes Limoncello January 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Yes, fake mozzarella is awful. Loved the tale – and the photo.

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missfootloose January 26, 2011 at 10:54 am

Are there any buffaloes/bufale on Sicily?

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FearfulGirl January 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I’ve had buffalo mozzarella at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne—delicious. I’m also a fan of fior di latte, made from cows milk but it’s so creamy and fresh. Cheese is my passion and antipasto platters are my life.

I also have a true love story on my website 🙂

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missfootloose January 26, 2011 at 10:32 am

I love antipasto platters. I love eating little bits of lots of things, like Middle Eastern mezze, or Spanish tapas or Chinese dim sum. Now I’m hungry! About your love story, send us the link!

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MaryWitzl January 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I don’t have any cheese stories. But boy, have you got me wanting a mozzarella sandwich!

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GutsyWriter January 25, 2011 at 1:18 am

I’ve got jet lag and you’re making me laugh. You know how dangerous that is? You’re just too much for me, but I love reading your stories, so please keep entertaining us.

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Madame DeFarge January 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I love mozzarella, but would sometimes prefer to forget that it comes from hairy buffalos. They’re just not what I regard as a foodsource!

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missfootloose January 26, 2011 at 10:25 am

Nothing hairy about the mozzarella though!

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inka January 26, 2011 at 8:24 am

You cracked me up. I’m glad that your better half has his priorities right.

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Lady Fi January 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Oh my – this is hilarious! My mouth is watering now… oh, for some REAL mozzarella!

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