Sheep Cheese from Abruzzo: Pecorino di Farindola

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Consorzio di Tutela del Pecorino di Farindola

  • download (1) Nine small towns on the eastern slopes of  Abruzzo’s Gran Sasso Mountains make Pecorino Farindola. Unique in Italy and perhaps the world, this raw sheep’s milk cheese is set with pig rennet to give it its unique aroma and flavour, and is regarded as a pearl to be protected by the Slow Food Movement.

The cheese has been made since Roman times and was supposedly the cheese of the Vestini, the Italic tribe that formerly inhabited Abruzzo… (more at the link…)

comment – It’s a special place for me, that side of the ‘Il Gran Sasso’, (the ‘big rock’ mountain,) facing the Adriatic, high on which that cheese is made. It’s where one grandfather was taken in as an orphan farm hand when he was 11, and where he would return after a rambunctious life first as a soldier who survived the first world war (3 times wounded, 4 medals – he never would talk about it, only begin to tear and then turn away to his right whenever the question came up,) enrolling when he was 17. Being illiterate, he only made it as far as sergeant – the limit he could hope for. Then he went to the states and worked for awhile on the B&O railway, but didn’t stay. There’s talk of an altercation, a killing actually, over a girl. It’s not so unlikely – he came from the generation of southern Italian men that always, by necessity, carried a knife. That knife went to my father, then to me – though I haven’t seen it in years.

He returned to Italy, married, and as an ex minor war hero the fascists gave him a government job in the forrest service. He loved trees, defending them from poachers, planting them, knowing them, watching them grow.  And as a handsome man with a sweet tenor – a serenader, now a lost art in nearly all of Italy, a singer others would pay to croon up at their long-haired desires, a declaration of love or hope, before the engagement, wedding or any other excuse to give a shine to TV-less evenings – he had his share of adventure under starry skies above.

Anyway, ask for the cheese – it is overwhelming in its depth of flavor. Try some. Maybe you’ll hear my grandfather humming a tune…

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