Two years ago, I wrote this post about the cheeses I had on hand in my refrigerator. Thanks to a program called EAT (European Art of Taste), an initiative supported by the European Union and the Italian Government, I now know a whole lot more about cheese – and specifically provolone [pro-voh-LOH-nay] cheese – than I did back then. I also have to say that I will never again eat a piece of cheese without appreciation for the amount of work that goes into making it.
As part of the EAT program, I recently traveled to Cremona, in the heart of the Italy’s provolone-making Lombardia region to visit the Auricchio cheese-production unit. As one of Italy’s oldest cheese manufacturing companies, the Auricchio brand has become synonymous with provolone cheese. With good reason too – Gennaro Auricchio, the founder of the company, is widely credited with having discovered an unusual kind of rennet that gives today’s provolone its distinctive flavor. He was also amongst the first of the provola cheesemakers from Southern Italy’s Campania region to head north in search of a better milk supply. Provola? Yes, provola. “Provolone” merely means “large provola”.