International Food Communities Gather at Cheese 2011

Tasters try samples of cheese in the Gran Sala at last year's event in Bra, Italy. Image courtesy of Slow Food.

Cheese returns to Bra, Italy, from September 16-19, 2011. The international biennial event organized by the City of Bra and Slow Food is now in its eighth edition. Dedicated to “milk in all its shapes and forms,” it has created an international network of cheesemakers and artisans who gather every two years to present their products, meet co-producers (consumers), discuss the challenges of the trade and market prospects and share solutions to problems old and new.

Ten different countries will be represented at Cheese by the Presidia, unique products protected by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. Old favorites like Tcherni Vit green cheese from Bulgaria, Swedish cellar-matured goat’s cheese from Jämtland and Pokot ash yogurt from Kenya will be joined by four international Presidia participating in Cheese for the first time: Auvergne Salers Cow Cheeses from France, Mavrovo Reka Mountain Pasture Cheeses from Macedonia, Bregaglia Valley Mascarplin or Mascarpel and Mountain Pasture Sbrinz from Switzerland.

Auvergne Salers Cow Cheeses – France
Auvergne represents the heart of French cheese production, with five cheeses having PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin) status and two native dairy cows, aubrac and salers. The Presidium was born to promote salers raw-milk cheeses. Today the majority of animals are used for meat production whilst only 3000 cows, on a total of 95.000, are used for their milk. The reasons are to be found in the decrease of productivity and the difficulty in the management of livestock. The Presidium aims to promote the work of the few raw-milk artisan producers that remain and from which the five PDO cheeses are derived.
Area of production: Cantal, Haute-Loire and 
Puy-de-Dôme départements, Auvergne region.
Present in the International Presidia Market in Via Principi di Piemonte and the Holding On To Tradition: French Salers Taste Workshop on Friday Sept. 16th at 4 pm.

Mavrovo Reka Mountain Pasture Cheeses – Macedonia
Kashkaval, the ancestor of many pulled-curd cheeses, is made in Mavrovo National Park following a complex production process. A large sheep’s milk cheese weighing around 4 to 5 kilos, Kashkaval undergoes a long aging in cool, damp locations. In addition to this cheese, the Presidium was also set up to protect other products from the local sheep-farming tradition: Belo Sirenje, similar to Greek feta, and thick, yogurt-like Kiselo Mleko. These cheeses are all made from the raw milk of the local Sharplaninska sheep breed, named after the park’s mountains.
Production area: Mavrovo National Park, Mavrovo and Rostuša municipality, Šar Mountains
Present in the International Presidia Market in Via Principi di Piemonte.

Bregaglia Valley Mascarplin or Mascarpel 
– Switzerland
A typical product of Val Bregaglia, in its upper part (called Sopraporta) it is named mascarpel and in the lower (Sottoporta), mascarplin. It is an aged cacioricotta, made with full goat’s milk. Mestra (sour whey) is added to the boiling milk, causing the mass to rise to the surface. Mascarplin is aged in a cellar for some weeks until it is covered with a blue-green-greyish mold. It is produced in small quantities by the breeders themselves, in spring (after the kids’ weaning) and in autumn (after returning from the mountain pastures).
Production area: Val Bregaglia, Grigioni canton
Present in the International Presidia Market in Via Principi di Piemonte.

Mountain Pasture Sbrinz– Switzerland
Alpine Sbrinz is one of the oldest cheeses produced in Switzerland. Up until the mid 19th century it was produced exclusively on the Alps but with the opening of the first dairies in the valley, production shifted to the lowlands as well. The Presidium was created to protect the cheeses made from the summer months’ raw milk in the mountain dairies. The three year slow aging process brings a full-bodied flavor and encourages the development of complex aromas in this extra-hard cheese. The Presidium supports the production of this unique cheese, guaranteeing a future for the for the artisan producers who continue to follow the traditional recipe.
Production Area: Central Switzerland
Present in the International Presidia Market in Via Principi di Piemonte.

The following well-established Presidia will be featuring in Taste Workshops. Information about them can be found on the website www.slowfoodfoundation.org

Austria – Vienna Gemischter Satz Wines
Austria’s Wines and Cheeses
 Taste Workshop, Saturday Sept. 17 at 4 pm
Netherlands – Aged Artisanal Gouda
Dutch Cheeses and Cooperative Wines
 Taste Workshop, Sunday Sept. 18 at 1 pm
Poland – Oscypek
Presidia Cheeses with Primitivizia’s Wild Herbs
 Taste Workshop, Saturday Sept. 17 at 1 pm
Spain – Sitges Malvasia
Mediterranean Flavors: Raw-Milk Sheep’s Cheese and Spanish Wines
 Taste Workshop, Monday Sept. 19 at 1 pm
Sweden – Jämtland Cellar-Matured Goat Cheese
Presidia Cheeses with Primitivizia’s Wild Herbs
 Taste Workshop, Saturday Sept. 17 at 1 pm

These Presidia, already familiar to Cheese visitors, will be on display in the International Presidia Marketin Via Principi di Piemonte. Information about them can be found on the websitewww.slowfoodfoundation.org

Armenia Motal
Bosnia Herzegovina Cheese in a Sack
Bulgaria Tcherni Vit Green Cheese, Karakachan Sheep
France Bearne Mountain Pasture Cheeses, Pélardon Affiné
Great Britain Artisan Somerset Cheddar
Ireland Irish Raw Milk Cheeses
Kenya Pokot Ash Yogurt
Netherlands Aged Artisanal Gouda, Texel Sheep Cheese
Poland Oscypek
Romania Bucegi Mountains Branza de Burduf
Spain  Carranzana Cara Negra Sheep Cheese
Sweden  Jämtland Cellar-Matured Goat Cheese
Switzerland Raw Milk Butter, Emmentaler, Raw Milk Vacherin Fribourgeois

The Terra Madre Network: Food Communities of Nomadic African Herders

The food communities belonging to the Terra Madre network are groups of people who produce, process and distribute quality food in a sustainable way and are historically, socially and culturally linked to a geographic area. The communities share the problems generated by an intensive agriculture that damages natural resources and a large-scale food industry that standardizes tastes and puts the very existence of small-scale production at risk.

At Cheese, representatives from Terra Madre food communities will be recounting the stories of women and men who make their livelihood by herding animals. They will participate in conferences and workshops and contribute to a global exchange of traditional knowledge.

Burkina Faso – Oudalan Nomadic Farmers
Oudalan is a vast border area, located along the invisible lines that divide Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Like the rest of the Sahel, the region is mostly populated by nomadic herding communities. The CRUS (Conseil Régional des Unions du Sahel) brings together around 40,000 herders and nomadic farmers, divided into 1.776 groups. The organization promotes interreligious dialog, the sustainable use of resources and food sovereignty through the realization of pastoral and agricultural potential and the promotion of local products.
Production area: Oudalan region

Ethiopia – Fantalle District Karrayu Pastoralists
Pastoralism and agropastoralism are the main livelihood systems for the Karrayu, a community living in the Fantalle district in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley. The Karrayu seasonally move their livestock to better pastures, using permanent settlements in different areas. This system is particularly suited to arid regions and allows the community members to easily adapt to the highly variable conditions. The animals raised by the Karrayu—cattle, camels, goats, sheep and donkeys—allow the community to use different types of fodder and provide food, traction power and a small income.
Production area: Fantalle district, Oromia region

Mauritania – Nouakchott Camel Breeders and Milk Producers
The breeding of camels on the outskirts of Mauritania’s capital is the modern version of an ancient activity, following the wide-scale urbanization that has affected the nomadic populations whose diet is based on milk. In the areas surrounding the capital, many farmers own or manage herds of dromedaries, gathered into groups of 20 to 30 animals allowed to graze freely. Camel milk is sold directly to passers-by and to intermediaries.
Production area: Nouakchott district

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