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caciocavallo

Pronunciation: [kah-choh-kuh-VAH-loh]

From southern Italy, caciocavallo ("cheese on horseback") is said to date back to the 14th century, and believed by some to have originally been made from mare's milk. Today this cheese is made with cow's milk and has a mild, slightly salty flavor and firm, smooth texture when young (about 2 months). As it ages, the flavor becomes more pungent and the texture more granular, making it ideal for grating. Caciocavallo is one of the pasta filata cheeses (like mozzarella), which means it has been stretched and shaped by hand. It may be purchased plain or smoked (the latter referred to as affumicato) and typically comes in string-tied gourd or spindle shapes. See also cheese.