Ricotta & mozzarella
Ricotta and mozzarella are both low in fat. Often, cheese found in one country--say, blue cheese, swiss cheese--is found in a slightly different form in other countries. But I don't recall ever seeing any counterpart to ricotta and mozzarella from another country. Anyone know of any?
And is there any cultural or economic significance to the fact that these are both low-fat cheeses?
In Mexican cuisine, 'requeson' is by production and result essentially ricotta.
String (pasta-filata) cheeses are also made in parts of Mexico (as well as other parts of the world); the region best known in Mexico for that style of cheese is, I believe, Oaxaca, and their famous product resembles the Italian mozzerella and (since it is made of cow's rather than buffalo's milk) more especially the Italian fior di latte.
Surely there is a good book available on cheese and cheese-making out there. Can anybody suggest one?
Not really. But, while waiting for the cheese officianados, I can offer what I know of these two Italian cheeses.
First, while some forms of the ricotta and mozzarella are low fat (standard 6g per serving), they vary up to about 9g fat per serving and as low as non-fat (the newest of the manufactured recipe invention)
Ricotta is made from just the whey, and are found in forms similar to cottage cheese (curds and whey - England, America) and range in fat content from near 0 gr. to about 6 gr. fat per ounce in the standard, readily available American brands.
I would guess that, originally, the secret of making mozzarella did not travel well to other areas because of its highly perishable qualities. God knows the mother of invention often stems from experiencing it in some form. Unless they found it while visiting in Italy, the other lands simply didn't know. The original and "fresh" mozzarella is usually stored in water - also making it harder to travel or trade. And, it was first made of buffalo milk, not an animal found in many lands - again, a difference is the process of cheesemaking.
Today's American-made mozzarella has been manufactured in low-moisture forms for the sake of shipping. Its a very popular cheese these days and one worthy of spending time and money on to make more desirable for today's diet demands, hence the lower fat content.
Trader Joe's has many very low fat, great cheeses - smoked gouda for one. But some of the low fat stuff is awful - something mozzarella or ricotta, IMO, will never be.
Sorry to digress a bit-- but I wonder if anyone has any info on the fat content of farmer cheese. I recently bought some French farmer cheese. I had always thought of famer cheese as a low fat, cottage cheese-type product. The cheese I bought tastes wonderful and creamy, and I now suspect it's not low fat at all (but I'm going to eat it all anyway, it's so yummy!)
Actually, this farmer cheese, bought at a Russian specialty shop in Brooklyn, reminds me very much of a ricotta-like cheese I used to get at the Union Sq. Greenmarket here in NYC. I used to buy it from a stand that I think was Amish run, they made their own cheeses, and this one was labeled "Ricatone," and was also labeled low fat (about 3%). It also was creamy and delicious, and too my dismay, they haven't had it there for a long while. I always had trouble believing that it was low fat, and the farmer cheese I bought tasted very similar. I wonder if any person more knowledgable than I can help me out on this. Many thanks in advance!
I also loved that cheese from the Amish vendor at the Greenmarket.
Haven't bought it for a while, so I don't know the current situation. But in previous years sometimes they stopped carrying the ricotone temporarily and then brought it back. Also, they used to sell in other markets, maybe the ricotone sells out faster in Union Square and you can find it at another greenmarket.
I claim no expertise in these matters but I don't think fromage blanc/platte kaas is made in the same way as ricotta. I would say, on the basis of eating it quite often in northern France and Belgium, that it is of a rather different consistency and flavour... Really delicious, but to my mind not that much like ricotta.