Alitalia’s patriotic credentials were under scrutiny this week when it emerged that the national flag-carrier was ‘guilty’ of offering French cheese at one of its top VIP airport lounges.
The nationalism in the story from ANSA wasn’t a surprise to me, but a statistic in there pretty much floored me:
The union noted that American consumption of ‘Italian-type’ cheeses had tripled in recent years while imports of real Italian products exceeded the imposters by just 2%.
It also pointed out that the average American preferred Italian to French cheese, consuming 5.8 kilos of Italian-type cheese per year compared to 100 grammes of French cheese.
I guess you’d say that Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano are pretty popular here. Maybe you throw some gorgonzola into the mix. But that margin! 58:1? Holy cow! Of course, they’re speaking of “Italian type” cheeses, which probably includes that salty sawdust crap in the green can.
Still, when I thought about the wonderful variety of cheese available in France, the margin seemed wrong. But then I started to think of the immense variety of cheeses you can find in Italy—many of which we don’t get here in the states.
If I hadn’t been on a press trip to the Piemonte, I wouldn’t have known of the wonderful cheeses produced there with a fine attention to tradition and detail. There are an estimated 160 types in Piemonte alone. In the picture below, Marina Rammasso of Osteria del Paluch shows a cheese that is made in three stages, the bottom layer first, then a day later the top layer is added, then the next day the last layer is put in place.
If you are really into traditional cooking with traditional ingredients, including local herbs (of which Piemonte is tops in the world), I can’t emphasise this enough: make thee a reservation at Osteria del Paluch. It’s not so far out of Torino proper in Baldissero on Via Superga 44.