Monday, 3 June 2013

goat cheese and legends. May, Saturday 25th

"behind every cheese there is a pasture of a different green under a different sky: meadows caked with salt that the tides of Normandy deposit every evening; meadows scented with aromas in the windy sunlight of Provence; there are different flocks, with their stablings and their transhumances; there are secret processes handed down over the centuries."
Italo Calvino, Mr. Palomar

nowadays, our modern palates are no longer used to the tastes of biodiversity. this is the first lesson we learned after we got off the Altopiano di Asiago, and arrived to agriturismo Al Cucco, surrounded by woods and stream waters. {if you don't remember what an agriturismo is, check this post for the definition}
when you produce non-industrial cheese, it's difficult to obtain the same taste every time, although the procedure and the doses are just the same: you can not predict what herbs or flowers the goat will eat tomorrow, or if she is going to stay in the stable because it's raining. 
for the one of us who are used to eat cheeses that have all the same taste, this could be disturbing. but it should be fascinating! when you taste a cheese, you're tasting the enviroment where the goat {or the cow}is living, the greens of the pasture, the different wind, sky, temperature, tradition. just like Calvino's quote says. 
chamoisee alpine goats

a blonde woman named Marianna is the landlady of agriturismo Al Cucco. she was a chemist but left her job to open this farm, raise goats and make cheese. she's not the only one who make that choice. she told us there is a small but increasing "return to the earth" that they're experiencing around there. people with good office jobs who decide to quit and follow the dream of making something grow with their hands. i think i'll do the same someday.

Marianna showed us how she makes her goat caciotta.
Marianna is a former chemist who had left her job to open an agriturismo, raise goats and produce cheese
Marianna is not just a cheese makers, she also knows a lot of local legends and old stories. while we were taking a walk in the woods, she showed us small tunnels dug into the rocks, excavated during the war and used as deposits.
then, she told us some legends about the anguane. an anguana is a fairy creature typical of the alpine mythology, related to the water, with characteristics that are partly similar to those of a nymph. 

in the Dolomites, anguane are frequently described as young women, often very attractive and able to seduce men, at other times, however, appear as half girls and half reptile or fish, capable of launching loud cries.
Marianna's story described how the anguane live near waters, and spend the nights washing and hanging white sheets to the moonlight. 
another lengend was about the salvanelli, pixies that have fun making jokes to the farmers overnight, like weaving togheter the cow's tails.
legends an old stories in the woods
out of the woods, we arrived at a semi-abandoned hamlet {in the local dialect, a contrà}. lots of rural houses have been abandoned, or, like some of them, are used as a summer house for old people who live in the city and come here to have some fresh healthy air.  

that give to those houses a melancholic look, suspended between being charming and being haunted.

{olympus om10 + fuji superia 200}

Agriturismo Al Cucco
loc. cucco, 2 - 36040 Valdastico (VI)


  1. This post is super interesting, Silvia! I didn't know much about goat cheese, except for the fact that I love it.
    I really like your reportage about Agriturismo al Cucco!
    And, I find Marianna's choice of open it a great one: the place looks wonderful and she must be having the time of her life there!

    1. thank you polly! more goat cheese for everyone! :)

  2. I hope some day you can turn your stories about Italy in to a book :)

    1. oh, my! you're flattering me :)
      thank you, for now i wouldn't go that far, i'm simply happy that someone is reading me here


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