Formaggi fans, brace yourselves: Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day is almost here! On Saturday, April 22, cheese enthusiasts across the world will celebrate raw milk cheese and the people who bring it to life, from the pasture to the plate.
WHAT IS RAW MILK CHEESE?
If you have ever tasted Parmigiano Reggiano, you already know (and probably love it)!
Simply, raw milk cheese is made with raw or unpasteurized milk; pasteurized cheese is made with milk that has been heated.
While raw milk cheeses are delicious, pasteurized cheeses tend to be more prevalent in American markets; FDA restrictions call for the destruction of natural enzymes and bacteria. And yet — scientists have deemed many of these microbial organisms to be "good," like those found in many fermented food and drink that nutritionists recommend (e.g., yogurt, pickles, beer, etc.).
After all, before Louis Pasteur came around with his ideas of partial sterilization in the mid-19th century, most cheeses already fell under the “raw milk” category. Back in the day, cheese was made with milk from healthy, well-treated cows (or goats, or sheep — you get it). That milk was then renneted, salted, and/or cured, processes that naturally kill the "bad" pathogens (which are fewer when the animals are humanely raised).
The result? A rich, nutritious cheese with an unmatched depth of flavor. Because the complex notes in the milk have not been burned away, the cheeses yield rich flavors that express the terroir, or the unique characteristics of the land where the cows were raised, from the Alps of Piemonte to the Tuscan hills to the Sicilian islands.
In Italy, raw milk cheese is still made following these same methods under the guidelines of different consortia, making them not just safe but delicious. And, happily for us, many cheesemakers in the U.S. strive to keep the tasty tradition alive, and things are turning around. Which leads us to...
RAW MILK CHEESE APPRECIATION DAY
Oldways Cheese Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to artisanal and traditional cheeses, protect and promotes raw milk cheese by engaging legislators and consumers alike. In fact, the OCC created the annual appreciation day in 2015 to raise awareness of the delicious cheese and protest the U.S.'s Food and Drug Administration's restrictive laws. Today, they continue to celebrate the ancient traditions practiced by cheesemakers in Italy, the U.S., and beyond.
To participate in Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day, the rules are strict but simple: eat raw milk cheese! As a flagship location for the official event, we can help with that.
EVENTS AT EATALY
At Eataly, we have been celebrating Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day since the beginning, offering tastes of our (yes, legal) raw milk cheese from different regions in Italy and the U.S. Join us this year on April 22 at your local Eataly!
Discover the rich flavors with complimentary tastings led by producers throughout the day.
The precise festivities in Chicago are still maturing (cheese humor?). Stay tuned for details.
Meet raw milk cheese producers, who will be stationed across the market and offering complimentary tastes.
The Connecticut-based Cato Corner Farm will join us in a special class to talk about their raw cow's milk cheese washed in beer that was brewed at Eataly. Get tickets!
Happy Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day!