The mozzarella is a dairy product originating in Campania and now spread all over the world. The term comes from “mozzare”, an italian word that means “cutting”; that is because to make mozzarella they use to cut by hand the mozzarella dough (traditionally this is done with the index and the thumb).
There are two versions of this famous cheese: the one made with cow’s milk and the one made with buffalo milk.
The mozzarella made with cow’s milk, or fiordilatte, is probably the oldest and most widespread, present everywhere in all its forms, from classic round mozzarella to new industrial forms, like cherries and braids. This dairy product is also the only Italian food to have obtained the name of TSG- Traditional Speciality Guaranteed – from the European Union in 1988.
Origins of mozzarella
The origins of mozzarella are not certain and still divide the scholars today; surely, its history is very ancient and stems from the need to transform and use milk in bad conditions. Indeed, in times of great poverty, nothing was wasted, and the processing of mozzarella allowed to eliminate the acidity of the milk, making it edible again.
The first written evidence about mozzarella comes in the XII century: in the province of Caserta, in the Benedictine monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua, the monks usually offered, during special holidays, a “mozza” accompanied by a piece of bread.
The term “mozzarella” appears for the first time only in the XVI century when it is quoted in a cooking book written by a chef serving the papal court.
Until the advent of the railroads, this cheese was produced and consumed locally, due to the short storage times (two or three days).
Mozzarella and fiordilatte
Since we are in the topic, we dedicate a small space to point out a difference that many do not even notice: mozzarella and fiordilatte are not exactly the same thing and – especially regarding pizzas – their use changes the final result.
Fiordilatte, compared to mozzarella, has less fat, is softer and the taste is more delicate. Both are used to make pizza according to the preference of pizza men. The mozzarella is less watery and it is not necessary to drain the product before putting it on the pizza. Fiordilatte is preferred in Neapolitan pizzerias: the juice dries while it is in the oven, making the pizza softer.