Food Products Holidays - Festivals

The 2023 Cheese Festival: A Taste of Dairy Excellence

The 14th edition of the world’s largest cheese and dairy tradition festival is ready to begin. From the 15th to the 18th of September, we’ll have another reason to visit Bra. The latest edition of the renowned festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, will be held in a small town in the province of Cuneo.

Since 1997, the festival’s goal has been to safeguard traditional national and other dairy products that are at risk of disappearing from non-traditional markets. The dairy tradition unites the 14 editions and 26 years of history supported by the Slow Food Italy movement.

Bra during the 2023 Cheese Festival
Bra during the Cheese Festival | Credit

The festival’s origins

Festival Cheese was inspired by a desire to honor the richness and diversity of Italian cheeses. In the first place, a group of local producers, chefs, and gastronomy aficionados convened in Bra in 1997 to celebrate the country’s remarkable dairy legacy. What began as a tiny local gathering quickly developed into an international event, attracting cheese enthusiasts from around the world. The Cheese Festival has helped to put Bra on the global culinary culture map, as well as boost awareness of the riches of Italian cheeses in other countries.

Almost 500 cheese variants are planned.

Bra is a city that lives and breathes cheese. Its history is connected with dairy farming and dates back hundreds of years. Obviously, this region is well-known for its cheeses, which are noted for their high quality and distinct flavor. Bra is the heart of this dairy legacy, with a community of dedicated farmers who have passed down their knowledge from generation to generation. With this in mind, the city’s deep connection inspired the Cheese Festival with Italian cheeses.

The Cheese Festival is well-known for being the largest international event dedicated to cheese and raw milk. The city will set up food kiosks, wine-tasting stations, and traditional national and international jams and jellies for the event. Aside from the historic presence of the United States, hundreds of exhibitors will be present from 14 European countries:

France
Spain
Ukraine
Macedonia
Romania
Bulgaria
Switzerland

Turkey
Norway
Sweden
Belgium
Portugal
Holland
Austria

The Festival Cheese defends local cheeses, which are typical of some territories’ historical risks of disappearing from traditional markets. The Axridda of Escalaplano, for example, is a little Sardinian town where the shepherd Rino Franci keeps a unique pecorino cheese. This is a raw sheep’s milk cheese of the Sardinian breed that has been totally covered in clay (axridda in Sardinian dialect) since ancient times.

The Axridda of Excalaplano is totally covered with clay | Credit

Or the Asturian afuega l’pitu, a raw milk cheese passed down from maker Pascual Cabano, who was inspired by his grandmother’s recipe.

Casu Marzu, the world’s most hazardous cheese

Among the cheeses on display is the world’s most deadly one, the Casu Marzu (also known as worm cheese). Because of the potential health dangers to consumers, production and marketing are currently prohibited by Italian and European norms. The presence of the dairy fly (Piophila casei), which lays its eggs in the shape of cheese during the production phase and reproduces inside, is a distinguishing feature. The enzymes secreted by the larvae soften and flavor the cheese paste, making it more like cream.

Currently, the Sardinian region is collaborating with Sardinian farmers and the University of Veterinary Medicine of Sassari to make cheese that meets sanitary standards.

The 2023 Cheese Festival is an important event for promoting dairy food culture. Cheese is not only celebrated here, but the principles of workmanship, sustainability, and history are also embodied. The event’s positive impact on the local economy of Bra is clear, and consumer interest will undoubtedly be high on this occasion.

To sum up, I welcome you to experience original flavors, meet enthusiastic producers, and become immersed in Italian and international gastronomic culture. In particular, each cheese has a story to tell, and by eating it, you may travel over Italy with your eyes open.

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