Food: Caciocavallo and other cheesy delights

I paused in front of the cheese display at a little market in Scigliano. “Look!” I said to Vern. A herd of little horses, shaped from ivory strands of caciocavallo cheese, were lined up in the window to amuse me, and that they did!

Those Italians really know what to do with cheese! Going to the cheese-and-sausage stores was one of my favorite shopping delights in Italy. We always found interesting cheeses, and succumbed to many temptations there. The volume of cheese alone is enough to amaze someone used to the typical American cheese shopping experience. Giant wheels of cheese cut into thick wedges, balls and chunks, fresh and aged, cheese to try with figs, meats, pasta, bread, cold or melted. I salivate at the many tasty memories.

Caciocavallo was a special delight. It normally comes in double balls, something like a snowman, with a cord around the ‘neck’ where it has hung to dry. Someday I’d love to see the process of making some of the cheese into little horses (cavalli). I really wanted to buy little caciocavallo horses as souvenirs to take home, but they were a little too perishable for that.

If you visit Italy, even if the trip is short and your time tightly scheduled, take a few minutes to find a cheese shop, and explore the abundance. Choose something intriguing, and buy a few ounces. Savor the flavor. The experience might become your favorite memory of Italy.

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