Monday, December 16, 2013

Mozzarella from Naples: Italian Cuisine Good Enough to Eat?

Photo from the excellent website
I am not someone who is paranoid about what I eat, although I am a firm believer in 'You are what you eat'.  I am seemingly intolerant to pretty much everything, but will never refuse a glass of prosecco, a slice of pizza or incredible nibbles that may give me a migraine later.  But, long before the show came out on Italy's toxic 'Terra dei Fuochi' (Scorched Earth - watch on youtube or find link on my Burnt by the Tuscan Sun facebook page) area surrounding Naples, and the place from where many of the gorgeous fruits of that earth abound, I gave up buying anything that I knew came from Campania (except cheese on my pizzas -- I could hardly go back in the cucina and ask where it came from).
After the show aired, about 30% of Italians did the same thing.  We were told that glowing tomatoes were being sold to all the big food cos., we saw old ladies with strawberry fields just below the toxic waste sites and insisting the water feeding her vines was good enough to drink.  We envisioned cows out to pasture with tumors larger than their udders.  So we stayed away.
So, in accordance with the Consortium for Bufala Mozzarella - four Consumer's Assocs., set out to prove everyone's worst fears.  And we were all stunned by the results.
They sent sample packages of mozzarella cheese bought in different parts of the country for testing in a lab in Germany.  They figured (rightly so), that no one would ever trust the results of local labs here in Italy...all it takes is a few slabs of dough in one's palms, I suppose to get the "right" outcome [just like "studies" conducted in the USA and financed by the very cos. they are purported to investigate].  I found this humorous, because along with Austria, these northern neighbors are the same ones who gave us glowing ricotta and blu mozzarella; new varieties the world had never seen.
Turns out, the Neapolitan mozzarella contained five times FEWER dioxins that are accepted by the Board of Health.  Somewhere in the processing, or maybe staying with the Bufalo in the first place, those chemicals that have lit the earth on fire were not getting into our food chain, after all.
This, in my opinion, was very good news.  Naturally, journalists affirmed that...had they been a bit more proactive back in the day - five years ago - when the cat got out of the cheese cloth...well, things would not have fallen so low.  Either way, I now only have to worry about my headaches from yeast when I down another pizza napoletana.


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