History is full of anecdotes about things that just happen for no obvious reason. Today we know how a blue cheese becomes a blue cheese, but that has not always been the case. Thereof the heading of this post. But for most blue cheeses the expression is not valid today. But only for most, because there are still some. Well, perhaps not some. I will come back to that. Some insist blue cheese has been around since dawn, and it could just be. We do not know a lot about it, though. There are indications that the romans and ancient greek did not like it when it appeared and regarded it a flaw. That brings us back to the heading: Blue cheese isn’t made, it just happens.
It was during the time I wandered about and.., (Hunger by Hamsun, translated by George Egerton) – no not at all, I did not wander about hungry in Alba. Far from it. September last year, on my way to catch the train to Bra, I had some extra time so I did not go straight to the train station, but rather off the written trail. Serendipity struck and all by a sudden I was in front of a cheese farmer selling the cheese of the cooperative he belonged to. Caprino d’Alpe the cheese was called. If I am not completely wrong there was a farmer alongside him as well selling his Italian salame. But this morning it was all about cheese. I was the only customer, so we naturally had a chat. When he realised I was Norwegian he told me about his travels to my country in general and his coastal express journey in particular. Nice. I, on my part, wandered away with a Caprino d’Alpe, nicely wrapped. I caught the train to Bra and Cheese 2017 as was the purpose for my visit.
Sometimes, but not always. Depends. So why then ask if the age of a cheese matters? Because it is a topic that at least some of us are concerned with. For me this has to do with integrity among other things.
From my tiny spot here up north I observe that Norwegians, together with the rest of the world, probably, have taken Parmigiano Reggiano to heart. Aka Parmesan, a French name by the way. We cannot have enough of it. Personally I am more in favour of the Swiss Sbrinz, but it is made only in minute quantities, most of which is consumed domestically. The small part being exported, goes to Italy, of course. I think most of us are approaching the way Italians make use of the cheese, for everyday use. Most Italians though, have some finer Parmigiano Reggiano for festive use, such as Sundays. We mostly don’t. The reason for that is probably ignorance and availability. I like being precise; so there is Parmigiano Reggiano, and then there is Parmigiano Reggiano. What’s the difference?