Latteria Perenzin

Summer and early autumn in Veneto and Friuli, and “Mediaeval” is everywhere. The early centuries of the last millennium were always seen as dark, mysterious and full of evil, but recent increases in knowledge have generated a totally unexpected wave of enthusiasm for the period, not least in the kitchen! So now, the costume tableaux, the parades and the jousting knights are followed by banquets prepared to authentic period recipes — some of which can surprise, intrigue, and even disconcert, like the “Ultramontane blancmange” prepared and served at the Cena Medievalis in Oppido Caminensium on 19th September last, by students of the Beltrame Institute in Vittorio Veneto, or the “Bevaròn de la Sriga Caterina” at “Oggi, un Medioevo fa” (“today, a Middle Age ago”), staged in the Castello di Caneva on 12th July. And no lack of dairy products in these rediscovered Middle Ages. “Castèl”, explains Carlo Piccoli of the long-established Latteria Perenzin di Bagnolo (San Pietro di Feletto), “is our general notion of what a Mediaeval cheese could have been like”.
The milk would certainly have been raw, and unrefrigerated, so that the storage conditions before it was made into cheese induced a natural acidification process, resulting perhaps in a level of acidity as high as 6 degrees (normally 3.2 in fresh milk) during the 24 hours after milking. This natural acidity, resulting from an enormous burden of bacterial flora (likewise natural), would have been transferred into the curds at the moment of processing, and functioned as a natural preservative for the cheese. “The high acidity of the paste triggered violent lipolysis and proteolysis, or in other words accelerated the maturing process in the fats and proteins”, concludes Carlo Piccoli, “which would make the cheese readily digestible, as well as rich in highly essential amino acids”.
“Castèl” cheese made by Perenzin is eaten fresh, or aged for up to six months, and goes well with a little honey, walnut bread and raisin wine.

Mario Sanson