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Apulia Slowfood: Caciocavallo Podolico and other Gargano products

Apulia is one of the most appreciated gastronomic regions of the South, due to its variety and quality. From typical seafood recipes, it is easy to move on to land-based first courses, meat-based second courses and even baked goods. Famous among these are orecchiette alle cime di rapa (orecchiette pasta with turnip tops), bombette (a type of pasta), panzerotti (a type of flat bread), taralli (a type of flat bread) and focaccia. But not everyone knows that this strip of land also has some niche delicacies. One of these is caciocavallo podolico, one of the most prized cheeses in the whole of Italy.

Caciocavallo podolico, a niche product

The particularity of this food lies in the milk from which it is made. In fact, this is extracted from a particular breed of cows, which today can only be found in the Gargano area and a few other corners of the peninsula. These are very ancient animals that come from the steppes of the Ukraine and are known mainly for their tenacity. In the past, they were exploited for their strength and endurance as they do not need rich pastures and many water sources. The low production and difficult process have made this variety of caciocavallo one of the most valuable in Italy. Its long maturation period, ranging from three to ten years, has earned it the nickname ‘Parmesan of the South’. Due to its remarkable flavour, it is eaten alone, preferably at the end of a meal.

Other Slowfood presidia typical of this area

In addition to cows, goats also populate the promontory. These have been used since ancient times both as a meat supply and as a base for dairy products. Local products include canestrato and cacioricotta, which combines the production processes of cacio and ricotta, hence the crasis of the name.