James Asks: If The Best Mozzarella Is From Buffalos, How Come Italy Has The Best Mozzarella?
Mozzarella is a generic term for several kinds of originally Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting (hence the name; the Italian verb mozzare means "to cut").
Buffalo mozzarella (Italian: mozzarella di bufala) is a mozzarella cheese made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo rather than from cow's milk.
Cute little devil!
Apart from Italy, its birthplace, buffalo mozzarella is manufactured in many locations around the world. There are producers in Switzerland, Southern California near Los Angeles, Vermont, Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Thailand, Egypt, India and South Africa, all using milk from their own herds of water buffaloes. Some scientists believe that Italy and Bulgaria have the best dairy water buffaloes.
In Italy, the cheese is produced in areas ranging from Rome in Lazio to Paestum (near Salerno) in Campania, and there is a production area in near Foggia, Puglia. The Italian city of Aversa, Caserta is recognized as the origin of buffalo mozzarella. The most famous of the families who make buffalo mozzarella in Italy are the Serra and Citarella families. They are known as the founders of the buffalo mozzarella tradition.
Buffalo mozzarella is an important industry in Italy. "Italy? is home to the ?300m ($430m) a year industry? Italy produces around 33,000 tons of its trademark mozzarella from buffalo milk every year, with 16 per cent sold abroad, mostly in the European Union. France and Germany are the main importers but sales have been expanding in Japan and Russia.
The history of water buffalo in Italy is not settled. There are currently four theories:
1. One theory is that Asian water buffalo were brought to Italy by Goths during the migrations of the early medieval period.
2. However, according to the Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, the "most likely hypothesis" is that they were introduced by Normans from Sicily in 1000, and that Arabs had introduced them into Sicily.
3. The Consorzio per la Tutela also refers to fossil evidence suggesting that water buffalo may have originated in Italy.
4. A fourth theory is that water bufflo were brought from Mesopotamia into the Near East by Arabs and then introduced into Europe by pilgrims and returning crusaders.
"In ancient times, the buffalo was a familiar sight in the countryside, since it was widely used as a draught animal in plowing compact and watery terrains, both because of its strength and the size of its hooves, which do not sink too deeply into moist soils."
References to cheese products made from water buffalo milk appeared for the first time at the beginning of the twelfth century. Buffalo mozzarella became widespread throughout the south of Italy from the second half of the eighteenth century, before which it had been produced only in small quantities.
"Production in and around Naples was briefly interrupted during World War II, when retreating Nazis slaughtered the area's water buffalo herds, yet commenced a few years after the armistice was signed"