In our cheese cases, cheeses from America as well as all over the world share the same space. Granted, the blues are contained in an enclosed cooler to dampen their aromas and bloomy rind cheeses are grouped to prevent their undue influence on other cheeses. Then, there is keeping the smoked and washed rind cheeses to themselves. Admittedly, there is a certain amount of â??kindergarten copâ? in policing where the cheeses go and who they are close to. For instance, keeping the smoked cheeses next to the Brie is a bad combination for each of the cheeses. Left alone, each of these cheeses would try to share their undesirable attributes with each other.
Expanding beyond our cheese cases, these same rules apply to the â??cheese world,â? only without the policing. Cheeses (and their cultures) frequently travel and influence each other. For instance, cheese-making talents tend to follow peopleâ??s immigration and develop in communities with flavors and styles that the immigrants (collectively) know. Consider immigration to America in the 1800s: Italian (and other) immigrants were known to soak fabric in cheese cultures, let them dry and sew it into their clothing. If you have ever smelled the â??funkyâ? side of an Italian Taleggio you can only imagine the aromas at Ellis Island. Italian cheeses in America have been a good thing. Mozzarella has made pizza what it is today. Think about what else you would put on your pizza. Likely itâ??s another Italian cheese.
These Italian immigrant cheese-makers settled in parts of the Northeast, as well as Wisconsin, recruiting family to follow them and collectively build traditions of some of the amazing cheeses that we all enjoy today. The story of Paolo Sartori is an exemplary one of passion, dedication to family, place and giving back to community, both in Wisconsin and in Italy. A fourth generation of family now carries on his vision of creating some of the best cheese in the world. If you have not tasted some of this cheese, come in and ask for a sample of the â??indescribable oneâ? or â??cheese that doesnâ??t know what it wants to be.â? With a dance of flavors that step between cheddar and parmesan- reggiano, you will taste the old and new worlds working together in one space, your palate.
Stepping farther out on a limb is that walk that Fiore Sardo has made from Italy to Argentina. Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy, remains home to Fiore Sardo, a cheese that predates the Roman conquest of the island located off Italy. Wildly popular in the 19th century, this was â??theâ? cheese to have in Naples and sought after in Genoa where it was used to make pesto. Today, itâ??s name is protected and must come only from Sardinia.
Still the passion for the cheese jumped to Argentina during the Italian immigration that came to Argentina after its own independence. Italians there make a different (albeit similar) cheese without the same name. Still the cheese is colloquially called, you guessed it – Sardo. Argentina now exports its own version of this Italian influenced cheese to share with the world.
The relevance of this association struck me today as the Pope (from Argentina) came to America to share messages from the Vatican (Italy) with the people of America. It seems that cheeses from each has already made the trip to our marketplace. A fine trip, for certain, and one to continue exploring â?? both culturally and with our palettes.
Jeffery Mitchell is the owner of the Culpeper Cheese Company. He is also a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at email@example.com or 540-827-4757.