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10 things you did not know about mozzarella

Taste / -

10 cose mozzarella
© Luka/cultura/Corbis

Symbol of Italy in the world, the stronghold of history and freshness, an unmatched and unique local product, as humble as it is tasty: let’s learn to appreciate the mozzarella even more through these interesting facts.

Why is it called mozzarella
The name comes from the fact that the spun paste obtained from the curd is "cut off," that is, cut by the dairy farmers to be modeled in its characteristic forms, whether it is rounded, braided or the bite-sized “bocconcini”. In Campania it has been like that for at least 500 years: "The water buffalo milk, which is used for making the ball tied with reeds, are called mozze (cut-offs)," writes Pietro Andrea Mattioli in 1563, and Scappi in 1570: "Top milk, fresh butter, ricotta flowers, fresh mozzarella, and ice cream."
 
It was originally only buffalo
The mozzarella was once made ​​only with water buffalo milk, obtained from ruminating mammals who were raised and herded in certain provinces of southern Italy (Naples, Caserta, Salerno, Benevento, Latina, Manfredonia, Gioia del Colle). Fortunately for the animals, intensive farming was not possible, and this guaranteed them minimum welfare. Their milk has almost double the solid content of cow’s milk and has a higher percentage of protein and fat, including the "good" unsaturated fats such as oleic acid. Today mozzarella can also be obtained with cow's milk or a mixture of both.
 
Buffalo milk almost doubles up
The processing of a ton of water buffalo milk produces over 24 kg of mozzarella, versus the 13 kg obtained from a ton of cow's milk.
 
It is protected
The mozzarella is a guaranteed traditional, geographical specialty and proudly bears the STG emblem if produced in full compliance with local rules. Bufala Campana is even DOP, that is, it cannot be produced elsewhere with ingredients that are not from the place or with different methods. So much so that various dairy products used for pizza, sometimes made ​​with milk proteins, or treated and bleached frozen curds from abroad, which cannot be called "mozzarella" use creative names with letters that mimic it: like pizzarella, or mozzabella and so on. But it is not mozzarella.
 
Why is it called also fiordilatte
Mozzarella obtained with cow's milk only are called "fior di latte"; dairies, milk consortia and the most talented pizza makers still use this old-fashioned term.
 
It is not slimming nor is it high in calories
It is wrong to consider mozzarella a low-fat cheese because it really should be produced with whole milk. It is unnatural, impossible and forbidden to produce fat-free cheese. But it is equally true that fresh cheeses, that mature rapidly, are more watery and, consequently, produce fewer calories than a denser cheese of equal weight.
 
Some fresh cheeses are more difficult to digest than mature cheeses
Mature cheeses are sometimes easier to digest. With aging, the characteristic protein (casein) of milk is transformed into peptones and amino acids which are somewhat easier for the body to assimilate. It also depends on the amount of fat that, as we know, reduces the action of gastric juices. What finally counts is also the temperature of the curd, which is why cheeses made with curd that has been heated (like Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano) are more digestible than those that have been made with unheated curd.
 
It should be preserved in its serum
The mozzarella should be stored in a small amount of salted whey and sealed in the upper part of the refrigerator. If it is left immersed in milk, it loses most of its flavor. Pizza makers may drain it leaving it for some time in the fridge, prior to use in pizza, to prevent the dough base from getting soggy during baking.
 
It should not be frozen
The mozzarella should not be put in the freezer compartment because the transition from 18°C below zero to room temperature has a negative effect on its characteristic flavor with the risk of a rather powdery texture.
 
Stracciatella and burrata are cut from the same cloth
Stracciatella from Puglia is a delicacy made ​​with strips of mozzarella chopped by hand and mixed with whey cream or whipped cream. Burrata is the bag of spun curd blown up like a balloon that is filled with Stracciatella. The preparation was invented in a dairy in Andria at the beginning of the last century so as not to throw away residues from the processing of mozzarella and capturing the every last shred of mozzarella from the water used for creating the threads of curd and recovering the fatty part of the whey. Large and extremely fragrant asphodel leaves were wrapped around this fresh bundle of goodness until the European Community rules prohibited the use.
 
 

Egypt. A thousand-year-old history behind each dish

Culture / -

nd egitto img rif e cover
© Kevin Fleming Corbis

An ancient land shrouded in the mysteries of time, Egypt was the birthplace of one of the greatest civilizations ever known. The charm of this country that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea stems not only from the secrets hidden in its desert sands and its thousand-year-old history, but also in the beauty of its territory.

In the past, when the Nile, the river that runs through Egypt from south to north, flowed high, food was assured for the country’s population. However, in more recent times, the government has had to take significant actions to stem the advancement of the desert. Today, dams and terraces characterize the inland areas, where the heart of the Egyptian economy lies in its agricultural fields. Agriculture and tourism are the main sources of income and development for the country.
 
One of the most multi-ethnic cuisines in the world
All Egyptian traditions are a blend of the ancient tribal culture and the religious customs that developed from the spread of the Muslim faith. Family unity and hospitality are sacred and trace their origins to a multicultural society that has been making its mark since the time of the pharaohs. Despite the strong Middle Eastern and African influences, Egyptian cuisine has much in common with that of the Mediterranean countries. The typical dish is the Molokhia, a very flavorful mallow and coriander soup accompanied by rice and pieces of meat. Koshari is also widespread in Egyptian cuisine, made from rice, fried onions and lentils and often seasoned by a spicy sauce called Da'a. Not to be missing from Egyptian tables are falafel made from bean flour, the Shawarma, a sort of flatbread wrap stuffed with meat, and the Kebab, consisting of pieces of meat on a skewer.
 
A pavilion that reveals the wealth of Egypt
The Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster houses the Egypt Pavilion, in which visitors can see a  number of interactive displays on Egyptian food traditions and learn about the country’s commitment to the use of renewable energy. Visitors should not miss out on the restaurant, which serves the most common foods of modern-day Egypt.
 
 

Morocco, a country to be explored with the senses

Culture / -

© Amar Grover_Jai_Corbis
© Amar Grover_Jai_Corbis

Minarets, deserts, mountains: Morocco is highly varied, an adventure to be explored with the senses, letting oneself be transported by the heart’s instincts through ancient medinas and souq markets.

A land which opens itself to those who desire to discover it, generous with its natural and architectonic beauty and with its sensual flavors. The rich aromatic notes of mint tea will guide you through the magnificent Imperial cities of Rabat, Marrakesh, Meknes and Fes, or Casablanca and Tangiers, where the eyes fill with delight and the mind with history and culture.
 
Argan Oil, precious gold for cooking and health
From the fruit of the argan tree, similar to the olive tree and found only on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, a special oil can be extracted, long a fundamental ingredient in Berber cooking. It takes 50 kilos of fruit to produce half a liter of oil, and the process is extremely long and laborious. Since 2001 argan oil has the status of Slow Food Presidium, thanks to Zoubida Charrouf, lecturer at Rabat University. This status involves social as well as environmental value: the harvesting of the fruit, the breaking of its husk and the extraction of the oil is largely carried out by women, and these time-taking activities offer them the opportunity for learning how to read, for studying and for socializing.
 
At the table, argan oil is often added after cooking couscous, in tagine fish or meat stews and in crudités. It can also be eaten raw on a simple slice of bread. Blended with almonds and honey it is a main ingredient in Amlou Beldi, the traditional creamy spread offered to guests as a sign of welcome, together with bread and mint tea. In rural areas it is customary to use a few drops as a first food for new-born babies. It is also extremely effective for moisturizing skin and hair and for healing wounds and scars.
 
A fortified Arab citadel in Expo Milano 2015
The Moroccan Pavilion is a Kasbah constructed with wood and earth, and reflects the style of Berber architecture, characteristic of the southern part of the country, where it is perfectly suitable for the geographical and meteorological conditions and for the way of life of its communities and their defensive needs in centuries past. It offers visitors a taste of the country’s mystery and beauty, and also a place to relax at the end of their visit, in a typical Mediterranean garden, with orange, olive and palm trees. The separate spaces of its architectonic context make it possible to offer visitors a journey through Morocco’s varied “terroirs” with their different agronomic characteristics and cultural traditions.
 
 

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