Italian cheese – words and flavors

Italy has many  local varieties of cheese that can originate from entire regions or small towns and villages. Some of these products have become internationally known, while some remain relatively obscure. Not all Italian cheeses made this list.

Asiago – hard, sharp, crumby and aged cheese made from cow’s milk. Originally produced in the town of Asiago in Northern Italy.

Bel Paese – literally, beautiful country. A rather modern invention (1906), this semi-soft cheese was originally produced in a village near Milan. The taste is mild and buttery. This cheese goes well with fruity wines.

Bocconcini – small balls of mozzarella cheese.

Brös (also Bros, Bross, Brus or Bruss) – a Piedmontese cheese made with grappa. The flavor is notoriously pungent.

Burrata – fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream. Usually served fresh.

Caciocavallo – made from sheep’s or cow’s milk, this cheese is similar in tast to Provolone.

Caprino – made from goat’s milk, this cheese comes as fresco (fresh) and stagionato (aged).

Casu marzu – a traditional Sardinian cheese made from sheep’s milk. Particularly known for containing live insect larvae. This cheese has actually been outlawed at times!

Di capra – literally “of goat”. Useful term when you are reading a package of Italian cheese.

Fontina – creamy, nutty cheese made from cow’s milk. Originally made in Aosta Valley, this cheese is also sometimes imitated under names such as Fontinella, Fontal and Fontella.

Gorgonzola – blue-veined cheese from unskimmed cow’s and/or goat’s milk. Can be creamy (“fresco”) or aged and hard (“stagionato”). Produced in Gorgonzola since at least the 9th century AD.

Liptauer – a spicy cheese spread, common in Austrian and Italian cuisine.

Mascarpone – sweet and buttery dessert cheese, essentially a cream-cheese. Originally produced in Lombardia, southwest of Milan as early as the 16th century.

Mozzarella – handmade cheese made from water buffalo’s milk or fresh cow’s milk. Used to prepare pizza and lasagna.
Parmigiano – Parmesan Cheese. Hard and granular, due to legalities sometimes called Parmesan or simply Italian hard cheese.

Pecorino – soft and mild (fresco) or aged and sharp (stagionato) cheese, made from sheep’s milk

Provolone – rich and firm cheese, made from cow’s milk.

Ricotta – soft, airy cheese made from sheep milk or whey (a low-fat by-product of cheese production).

Romano – a salty and sharp cheese, usually grated. Originally from Rome.

Stracchino – soft spreadable cow’s milk cheese. Originally from Lombardy.

Taleggio – rich and creamy, originally from a Bergamo Province of the same name.

See also:

Types of Italian bread

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