Do you love mozzarella? I mean real mozzarella?
If you’re not a lucky expat living in Italy, have you ever had the good fortune of visiting the Naples area and been introduced to mozzarella di bufala? Well, then you’ll know that the stuff that passes for mozzarella available in supermarkets in the US and the rest of Europe, locally produced from cow’s milk, is nothing but an insipid, bland, flavorless, dull, vapid, lifeless imitation of the Real Thing. A travesty! I’m sorry, but that’s just how I feel about it.
The Real Thing is made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo, and they’ve got such bovines in Italy. I’ve seen the beasts up close, wallowing in muddy water, because that is what they like. I saw them when I visited a mozzarella dairy in Campania once and it was fascinating to see how they made the cheese in a pristine dairy just feet away from the big wallowing beasts.
The owner of the caseificio was strolling around the place, surveying his kingdom. He was gorgeous, and did not at all look like his buffaloes. He was tall and clean, with long, wavy dark hair, just like a Harlequin hero – be still my heart. He was wearing jeans and an open-necked white shirt, not tucked in, with the sleeves rolled up, very Italianish.
One day I was introduced to another owner of a dairy that produced mozzarella. A very nice man, if not Harlequin hero material. And would you believe, some months later he offered my prince the job of managing his dairy. Wouldn’t you just think I’d jump for joy? Imagine, a fresh supply of mozzarella whenever I wanted it!
Well, this dairy was not located in Italy, but in a small isolated town in the mountains of Armenia, a long haul away from the capital of Yerevan (where we were living at the time), a town not exactly a sophisticated metropolis itself.
And the mozzarella they produced in that dairy in the mountains, I’m sorry to say, was the fake stuff. Made from cow’s milk. Not that my husband cared. He’s a business man, and if people will buy the cow-milk stuff, that’s fine by him. Business is business. However, taking that management job was not the career move he was looking for, and even if it was a dream job, it was not a dream location. You might wonder why not, looking at the photo below. Yes, the town is located amid stunning mountainous scenery, is a beloved place for Armenians to go vacationing, and for the outdoorsy types it’s a great area for hiking.
“I’d lose my wife,” he told the mozzarella man.
“No problem,” said the mozzarella man, “we’ll find you another one.”
“So, how did you respond to that?” I asked, trying to sound casual. I have my pride, you know.
“I told him, ‘I’ve had her for so long, I’d better keep her.’”
So, I think I’ll keep him, too. And buy him one of those sexy, white Italian shirts.