To understand how Gorgonzola Cheese was created we have to go in Valsassina Valley, near the famous and beautiful Como Lake. Reports claims that since the XV century cows' cattles used to graze there, in the summer, after a long journey from the village of Gorgonzola, in the Padana Valley.
The shepherd leading the cattle was also a cheese maker (in Italian Casaro or Bergamino) and being in summer he needed a place where to repair from the sun and flies the fresh cheese he made. The best solution he found was a cave. Yes, a natural cave where the roof was naturally covered by a mould, called Penicillium roqueforti, that slowly contaminated Cheese.
At first sight the Cheese that the Casaro wanted to preserve was compromised. It appeared blue and with a weird smell, but as at the time nothing could be wasted, he decided to give it a go and to sell it.
It was a success. The mould which apparently spoiled the cheese developed some incredible and complex delicious flavour.
Skipping forward to modern times, Gorgonzola is now one of the most famous Italian cheeses. Someone even says that Winston Churchill during WW2 asked the Germans not to bomb the area from Novara to Milano, to protect his favorite cheese (Sorry Stilton!).
Nowadays Gorgonzola Cheese is made slightly differently compared to the old times. Following modern and stricter food safety rules, today Gorgonzola Cheese is made with pasteurised Milk and not with Raw Milk like in the old days and the mould is artificially inoculated through artificial lactobacillus.
Gorgonzola Piccante VS Gorgonzola Dolce
Making Gorgonzola with raw milk used to give to the cheese a spicy and pungent aroma. However, when, dairies started to use pasteurised milk, customers begun to ask a creamier and sweeter cheese and that’s how a new variation of Gorgonzola was developed.
Today if you go to Gorgonzola, near Milano, it is very hard to find any Casaro still making cheese or cows grazing in the fields, but Gorgonzola Cheese and other blue cheeses like Strachitunt or Castelmagno are widely made in the whole region of Northern Italy.
Another version of Gorgonzola you can find it at our producer Leccolatte, with his Resegone Cheese. You can browse his products here. Enjoy
The view of Valsassina Valley from Casargo (LC)