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Italy’s Pungent, Iconic Blue Cheese Conquers The World

Italy’s Gorgonzola keeps conquering blue cheese lovers across the world. According to recent data by the Gorgonzola consortium uniting top producers and ensuring tight production rules the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t reduced demand for this savoury Italian delicacy.

In 2020, Gorgonzola production grew by 1.49 per cent compared to a year earlier with a 2.85 per cent rise in exports primarily towards European countries but also Japan, Australia and the United States said the lobby. Gorgonzola is one of the world’s most prestigious blue cheeses, renown for its distinctively pungent flavour and scent, with bright, elegant vein-like greenish streaks of mould.

But how did this fungus-ridden product come to be not only edible but highly requested by world gourmands and cheese tasters? As for most sublime foods legend goes Italy’s iconic cheese was created by mistake in the countryside surrounding the picturesque town of Gorgonzola, at the border between the northern regions of Lombardy and Piedmont. Its origins are steeped in mystery but without any doubt, it was the end-result of an error that occurred somewhere along the cheese production chain, and which turned out to be very successful.

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According to the Gorgonzola consortium the birth date of this delicious blue-cheese traces back to the middle ages and precisely to the year 879. Its story is a mix of romance, chance and creativity. One day a distracted and sad dairy boy who had just been dumped by his girlfriend forgot the cheese pot out at night. The next morning instead of throwing away the almost rotten curd he added a fresh layer of cheese. In between the two layers green “parsley” looking veins of mould formed. The dairy boy was curious so together with his master tasted the weird cheese and found it delicious, ideal for the rough palates of farmers and townsfolk used to pungent foods.

Across centuries that great ‘mistake’ was replicated several times over until Gorgonzola became a specific cheese variety. Today it’s even a top, sophisticated ingredient in Michelin-starred cuisine, ideal for making high-end risotto dishes.


Courtesy: Silvia Marchetti, Forbes

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