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  • Christina Pickard

A Morning of Mozzarella

A few weeks ago I received an email from Douglas Blyde, a sommelier and wine and food journalist, saying he was helping to champion the campaign for the spread of Buffalo Mozzarella and would I like to attend a tasting? Of all the campaigns I could think of to champion (world peace, the slowing of global warming, eradicating poverty…), spreading the word about Buffalo Mozzarella would not honestly make the list. However, my knowledge of mozzarella was limited. I knew it tasted great on pizza and bruschetta, and that it came in a watery ball that always made a mess in my kitchen when the package was opened. And that was about it. So I agreed to go along to the tasting out of curiosity, because as a wine gal, a knowledge of food is also very important. Plus what could be better than eating balls of cheese before 10 in the morning?!

I arrived half asleep at 9:45am at the Italian Cultural Institute in the beautifully posh, Embassy-lined Belgrave Square. I was welcomed thankfully with a traditional Italian brekkie—a cup of strong coffee and a biscotti. Shortly after, I was ushered with the others into a conference room where we were given headsets which would translate the spoken Italian into English. For the next half hour, a panel of Italian men (most employed in some way or another by the Institute I believe), tried to kill time whilst people from around 12 different countries in the EU gathered themselves into their own conference rooms in their respective countries. This was all being beamed to us via live feeds on a big screen with each country in its own little square like the Brady Bunch. After being regaled with stories of non-cheese eaters being converted by the powers of Mozzarella and a good talk by Douglas on which wines to match with Mozzarella, the live feed conference between nations commenced in what can only be described as delightfully chaotic. For the next hour we were treated to blurry pictures of people sitting in Madrid or Paris, trying to communicate with each other. The majority of the 60 minutes consisted of ‘Madrid, can you hear me? Madrid?’ Meanwhile Madrid had already tucked into their tasting and through our headphones, which were making alien transmission sounds, we could just barely make out our translator saying, ‘Let’s wait while that’s being translated into 12 languages’.

I have to admit that my friends and I rather cheekily snuck out slightly early and found our way to the food room where we stuffed ourselves with Mozzarella (it may not have the complexities of an aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano, but it is entirely satisfying in a fresh, youthful tangy way) and various prosciutti with Prosecco.

It may seem like I’ve haven’t painted a rosy picture of this event, but let me make clear my enjoyment of it. Because the very fact that it was slightly scattered and overcomplicated (but passionate nonetheless) made it inherently Italian. Wonderfully Italian. If everything went according to plan, like a well-oiled machine, it would’ve been a German tasting. Ok, I didn’t actually learn much about Buffalo Mozzarella except that it’s from Campania and is made from buffalo’s (a smaller version, more like a big horned cow than the hairy herds grazing the plains in the Wild West films) milk, so perhaps in future a brief video about how it’s made, etc would be far simpler. However this was a tasting to champion the authenticity of Buffalo Mozzarella, and what better way to do that than to make the event itself authentically Italian…whether they meant to or not!

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