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The Historical Regional Cuisines Of Italy - Campania: Part VI

Updated on March 29, 2009

As I stated in my A Gourmet's Guide To Mozzarella Di Bufala Hub:

When you get the real Mozzarella Di Bufala in its fresh state, you will quickly realize that what you previously knew as mozzarella is really nothing more than an Italianized Monterey Jack. If you serve it soft and moist on a cold sandwich, on a Caprese Salad, or even just by itself with a little salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil... you'll never settle for anything else!

Here are some of the most famous cheeses and dairy products used in Neapolitan and Campanian cuisine, in order of their ripening, from fresh to aged.

  1. The fuscella ricotta is fresh and light and originally sold in little wicker-type baskets
  2. The fresh ricotta, which is consumed either by itself or as a condiment (traditionally atop pasta with meat sauce)
  3. Ricotta salata which is more seasoned, and is generally enjoyed in the period of Easter
  4. The fresh caciottella from the Sorrento peninsula is renowned for its very delicate flavor
  5. The mozzarella di bufala which is the piece de resistance of Campanian dairy products, whose production is mainly concentrated in the marshy plains of the Aversa and Sele areas.
  6. The bocconcini alla panna di bufala, or burrielli, which are mozzarella cheese stored in earthenware amphorae, and immersed in the cream or milk of the yak.
  7. The scamorza, which is a cured, smoked mozzarella
  8. The fiordilatte, which is not made from yak's but rather cow's milk, and is best savored in the area of Agerola
  9. The smoked provola which is a fiordilatte intensely flavored from prolonged smoking over wet straw, and is externally tan brown and internally lemon yellowish.
  10. The burrini di Sorrento, which are small provoloncini with a surprising core of rich butter
  11. Then there are the various solid, strongly aged cheeses such as the caciocavalli, bebe, and provolone cheeses

All the fish to be found in the Tyrrhenian Sea is abundantly present in modern Neapolitan cuisine. Given the historical poverty of the region, the cheaper fish such as anchovies and blue fish in general make up the bulk of local consumption. It is interesting to note that although in days gone by fish would be strictly a feast day addition to what is essentially a lacto-vegetarian diet, it has now found its way onto the daily table of Neapolitans. Some of the most popular fish and the preferred ways to prepare them are the mackarel, which is prepared in almost every imaginable way; the cicenielli, which are juvenile bluefish, small and eerily transparent, which are generally boiled or batter fried; and the fravagli, which are usually small mullets about an inch or so long, which are also battered whole and fried.

Following the gradual depletion of fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea, and the resulting restrictions on fishing of juvenile fish, both cicenielli and fravagli are no longer supposed to be sold, but they are readily available from virtually every fishmonger in Campania. Yes, the Neapolitans consider most laws in the way that they consider red traffic lights: It's not so much a rule as good advice.

Continued in Campania Part VII

Check out the entire tour of Italy's Historical Regional Cuisines!

Emilia Romagna - Coming Soon
Friuli Venezia Giulia - Coming Soon
Lazio - Coming Soon
Liguria - Coming Soon
Lombardia - Coming Soon
Marche - Coming Soon
Molise - Coming Soon
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Puglia - Coming Soon
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Sicilia - Coming Soon
Toscana - Coming Soon
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