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Mozzarella di
 Bufala and Stracciatella di Bufala

May 6, 2009

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Italy produces a vast abundance of unique, deliziosa foods, which is why food aficionados regularly swarm to local restaurantsserving Italian cucina and rarely turn down an overseas trip to Italy’s home-country pantheons.

Many of the most sought after Italian gastro-star foods are only sold fresh, which is why they are little-known in the U.S.: their freshness (often the very soul of their desirability) gives food safety inspectors from US Customs and the US Agriculture Department the heebie-jeebies, so these foods often don’t make the trans-Atlantic crossing.

Among these gastro-stars are Mozzarella di
Bufala and Stracciatella di Bufala, cheeses made from the very rich milk of water buffaloes. These huge buffaloes (twice the size of your average American cow) are native to India, and were wallowing around in water holes in southern Italy by the time of the Roman Empire. No one is sure exactly sure how they got to the Mediterranean (or even when), but everyone is glad they did.

Water buffaloes are farmed today in Italy’s southwest, in Lazio and Campania, where the lush Mozzarella di
Bufala is traditionally made from their milk. They are also farmed in Puglia in Italy’s southeast, where the equally-lush Burrata and Stracciatella di Bufala are made.

Milk from water buffaloes has a different protein structure than that from cow’s milk, which gives the cheeses made from it a signature chewy-ness, while its high butterfat gives it unusual sweetness.

Mozzarella di
 Bufala of Campania is made by kneading and stretching the curds in hot water, and shaping chunks of the cheese into balls the size of a tennis ball, or a bit bigger.

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The Burrata of Puglia is a hollow ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, a bit larger than a tennis ball, filled with stracciatella (stracciare in Italian means “to shred”.) Mozzarella cheese is shredded and frayed into thin threads, making stracciatella. This is then mixed with fresh cream, and stuffed inside a mozzarella, making a burrata.

The deliciousness of both versions – Campania and Puglia – is beyond thesaurus-land.

The other day we learned that Gran Gusto (a favorite Cambridge, Mass. neighborhood restaurant) had managed to get their hands on some stracciatella and burrata, so we rushed over for dinner. We had a wonderful fish entrée, and one of our favorite wines, Donafugata from Sicily. But the real highlight was the stracciatella, served with speck (for Dun) and with arugula (for Sara).

We also persuaded our Gran Gusto friends to part with a bit of their stracciatella – and the next night had this simple, memorable, transporting salad – Stracciatella a la Gran Gusto!

P.S. A word-wise note: Stracciatella is the word for shredded mozzarella, but is also the word for a Roman egg-drop soup, Stracciatella alla Romana. Forewarned is forearmed!

-Dun

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2010 6:17 pm

    Hello, thank you for the beautiful photo……..when purchasing fresh mozarella how do
    I know if I am getting the cow or the buffalo……….my digestive system does not do well
    with cow but I have had buffalo mozarella and I know I can tolerate that (thank God!).
    So do I specifically ask for Buffalo mozarlla or buffalo stracciatella?
    Thanks
    Joann

  2. February 8, 2010 6:37 pm

    Hi Joann,

    Stracciatella is very hard to get in most stores, so I would make sure to ask for buffalo mozarella. That way, you know that you’re getting it from the buffalo. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask!

    – Alison

    • February 8, 2010 11:06 pm

      Thank you………much appreciated.
      ? Does anyone know how to make pickeled eggplant??? My mom used to jar eggplant when
      we were kids and I have a beautiful memory of the taste and a very vague memory of the
      actual process…….I know she peeled the eggplant, sliced it in thin circles then put it in a
      colander, salted the eggplant and put a plate on top with a heavy weight (brick) and left it until the water drained. Then she sliced the circles into thin strips and quickly boiled them
      in a mixture of boiling water and white vinegar (I think)…….. par boiled for just a few minutes……..took them out, squeezed them and……….the next step was jaring them but I am not exactly what she did to the jars before filling them and I think she put olive oil into the jars with seasoning……garlic and hot pepper. Anyone out there have the details of how to do this???? Thanks Joann

      • February 11, 2010 4:20 pm

        Pickled eggplant is delicious. Sounds like you have a great start on making it from what you remember. You can cut it into circles, or spears, or cubes. Sort of depends on how big the eggplant is. It’s really important to peel, salt and drain it so it won’t be bitter. It helps to press down on it gently with a spoon after it drains to get as much juice out as possible. Use about 3/4 cup olive oil to 1/4 cup vinegar when packing it in jars, and then top it off with olive oil before sealing. You can add all sorts of things: red and green peppers, herbs such as fresh dill or parsley, sliced garlic. Let the pickles sit for 3 or 4 weeks before eating them.
        If you’re new to canning, go to http://www.freshpreserving.com for some good basic info on sealing the jars, etc.

        Good luck!
        – Georgia

  3. February 11, 2010 7:17 pm

    Georgia,
    Thank you so much for the recipe of “pickeled” eggplant……..yummmmmm!

    Let me just make sure I have this correctly………..no need to par boil( the peeled,sliced
    eggplant) in vinegar and water??? My sister (younger) seems to think that this is a necessary
    step……..however, I am going to try your recipe. Thanks again.
    Joann

  4. beejay permalink
    June 16, 2011 12:09 am

    Actually, I believe Stracciatella mean something like old rags, or strings, and refers to the appearance of the shredded Mozz and the stringiness of the egg which is sort of whipped into the broth in the Stracciatella soup.
    Oh, like Ropa Vieja, a shredded beef dish from Cuba, means old rags. Same-same. 😉

    Burrata…mmmmmmmm.

  5. December 5, 2011 2:51 pm

    I just had the chance to eat the stracciatella cheese, freshly made this weekend. Divine!

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