WHAT IS SCAMORZA?
In Italian “scamorza” means idiot. Similarly the etymology of the name is a reference to this pear shaped cheese having a “head”. Originally this formaggi was made from buffalo milk. But today almost all production uses pasteurized cow’s milk. After rennet is added to the milk and clumps of curds form, the curds are pulled and stretched altering the texture of the cheese. This is method of cheese making is called pasta filata. Other dairy members of this family include mozzarella, caciocavallo and provolone. Although with Scamorza the curds are broken up a bit. This gives Scamora former a lower moisture content. This is why it also has more flavor. This formaggio is then sold as is (bianca) or is then lightly smoked with hay (affumicata). Consequently, some people compare Scamorza’s texture to a very dry mozzarella.
WHERE IS SCAMORZA MADE?
This P.D.O. (name controlled) formaggio is made in the southern regions of Campania, Apulia, and Molise. Campania is one of the most densely populated parts of Italy. But in spite of or perhaps because this, the food, climate and scenery are stunningly beautiful.
DOES ITALY EVEN EXIST? (THERE IS NO SPOON)
Journalist Frank Jacobs wrote an excellent post titled “There is no such thing as Italian food.” He explains that an authentic understanding of Italian food means understanding how the locals see their cuisine. Please read it! Furthermore Mr. Jacobs does a great job of pointing out the difference between a post-modern view of cuisine vs. an old world, traditional perspective. Just because countries like America “have” pasta doesn’t make it yours, or even mean that you know how to cook or eat it.
WHAT CAN I PAIR WITH SCAMORZA?
The plain version is a mild cheese. But even a smoky Scamorza isn’t too strong for most Cabernets, Merlots, Pinots, etc. Likewise white wines with a lot of barrel flavor shining through will work (Chardonnays, etc). But for cheese flights, stay away from other pasta filata cheeses. Look more for contrasting flavors. So for a nice Italian cheese flights look to a Parmesan Reggianno or Bitto and a sheep’s milk Pecorino (not Romano). Even a nice Taleggio can work well.