the midst of the current food scandals, it is not easy, to say the
least, to trust what ends up on our plates. Horsemeat used instead of
the advertised beef? Fish incorrectly labelled? Eggs produced by battery
hens but sold as organic? We have all read these numerous articles in
the newspapers, with a sinking feeling in our stomachs and our hearts.
is however still possible to find people for whom food is a real
passion. Simple, wholesome, fresh food. Take Samuele Frascarelli for
example. Samuele lives and works in a refuge in the Sibillini Mountains,
close to Ascoli Piceno in the heart of the Marches. A stunning region
located in the middle of Italy, Le Marche is known as the new Tuscany
and is famous for its many succulent dishes. The cook not only prepares
his share of delicious recipes in the welcoming Capanna di Bolognola, he
also makes his own cheese, bread and cured meat. On request Samuele
will prepare mozzarella or ricotta in front of guests, a riveting
experience. Let's concentrate on the process of producing mozzarella.
pasteurized and non-pasteurized buffalo or cow's milk can be used to
make this soft, versatile cheese. When produced out of unpasteurized
milk the mozzarella has to be eaten on the same day, whereas the
pasteurized version will keep for a few days. A good three hours of
fermentation turns the milk into the unrefined version of the cheese.
This paste is then chopped into small bits that need to be plunged into
boiling water. The temperature shock turns the paste into a stringy lump
that needs to be worked on, the water being removed little by little,
until the mass acquires the right texture. The mozzarella can then be
shaped into whatever form, although it is normally sold as a big ball or
a bag of little ones. To watch Samuele shape the cheese he has created
from scratch is quite fascinating. The last step is a short immersion
into salted water, which will give the mozzarella its taste. Try a bite
before and after and you will easily notice the difference this final
part of the process makes.
is then time to savour the fresh cheese. The obvious way would be to mix
it with ripe, dark red tomatoes, a bunch of fresh basil leaves, good
quality olive oil and aceto di Balsamico and a sprinkling of salt and
pepper. But a slice of mozzarella arranged on top of crusty bread and
dipped into olive oil works just as well.