The ‘wrong stracchino’ that takes its name from the town where a dairyman distracted by love created it
In the province of Milan, green plains and knitted rivers surround the town of Gorgonzola. Many abroad don’t know of its existence but are very familiar with its name, which is the same as the third most exported Italian cheese.
Originally it was called ‘stracchino di gorgonzola‘ and like stracchino, when it is young, it is soft and creamy. However, its veins of mold make it resemble antique porcelain. Local dairies have been producing since the Middle Ages, and its birth is linked to stracchino. According to the legend, a young dairyman had spent much of his day with the girl he was in love with and hadn’t finished the day’s work.
Thus, the curd bundle he had prepared remained hung to drain all through the night. The following day, to avoid wasting it, he decided to add it to the fresh curd made in the morning. After aging the cheese, when he cut it, he found that it was greenish because of the stripes of mold, but tasted very good. So, a new cheese was born. The mold is the result of the action of ‘Penicillium roqueforti‘, a fungus of the same family from which the penicillin is obtained. Perhaps it is no coincidence that in the dairy environments the people in charge of the Gorgonzola aging have always been considered particularly resistant to infectious diseases.
There are two types of Gorgonzola. Sweet Gorgonzola is younger – about 2 months of aging -, softer, creamier, and with fewer veins. Spicy Gorgonzola, which is aged for at least 3 months, has more veins, a stronger taste, and a more compact paste. For this reason, it is classified as a ‘semi-hard’ cheese, or ‘hard’ if the aging period is further extended.
Gorgonzola is produced solely with cow’s milk collected daily from the about 40 farmers of the consortium for the protection of Gorgonzola cheese. The consortium is responsible for guaranteeing the quality and protecting the brand of this product that received the PDO status in 1955.
Ilona Catani Scarlett