Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown up in South Africa, but mozzarella cheese has always been a firm pale yellow cheese that is grated onto pizza bases or on top of lasagna. It comes in a firm, solid block, often in a cylindrical shape. It melts beautifully and makes that long stretchy cheese when you cut a warm slice. It’s fairly neutral, taste wise, so it works well with spicy Italian dishes.
It was only on my first trip to Italy a few years ago that I was introduced to something also called mozzarella but it was so completely different that I’m amazed that the two products have the same name!
The most popular Italian version is known as mozzarella di bufala. (It’s made from the milk of water buffalo although mozzarella can be made from other types of milk.) It is white and soft and deliciously tender. It is packaged usually as a large individual ball floating in a briney liquid and it needs to be eaten as freshly as possible.
I love that when you order a salad promising greens, tomatoes and mozzarella in Italy or France, you get this lovely light and fresh white cheese. But the most exciting of all was ordering a pizza slice in Rome, from a busy place on a narrow side street near the Trevi fountain. I was in food heaven! A crispy base with oozing melted creamy white mozzarella, flavoursome red tomatoes and a smattering of fresh basil leaves. It’s like the Italian flag on a plate
So simple, but sublime. A pizza dotted with softly melted, creamy bufala and tomato