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Like pizza and brick pizza ovens, mozzarella was also first invented in Naples. Fresh mozzarella has little in common with the plastic “string cheese” than many of us grew up. In fact, processed mozzarella is an invention of the American pizza chain restaurant industry, which needed a stringy cheese product that was inexpensive, could be easily shipped, and had a long shelf life.
Fresh mozzarella has a high moisture content and is shipped in water. It is slightly stringy and has a delicate texture, It tastes wonderful fresh, in a Caprese salad (mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil,) and is the perfect cheese for pizza.
You can easily dice fresh mozzarella, which saves you the pain of grating your knuckles on a cheese grater, and a little goes a long way. We recommend that you not cover your pizza with cheese, but spread out enough to get flavor in every bite.
We have found both domestic and imported Italian fresh mozzarella at Costco, Trader Joe’s, supermarkets with specialty cheeses and cheese shops.
For a special treat, look for imported Italian Mozzarella di Bufala, made from buffalo milk. Asiatic buffalos were imported to Italy in the middle ages, and are still in Naples helping make a slightly pungent, tasty mozzarella. It’s great.
Mozzarella for Kids
While fresh mozzarella is great, it is not inexpensive, and we find that the experience may be lost on some children. With that in mind, we have been known to have a package of pre-grated domestic mozzarella around for pizza parties. We even did a blind taste test and found that no one could tell the difference between pre-grated mozzarella and processed mozzarella grated on the spot. We aren’t sure what the says about processed cheeses, but at least it’s convenient.
We have found the following cheese make wonderful non-traditional pizzas.
Parmesan. Sprinkle a little on top of your mozzarella for a nutty flavor.
Feta. Goes well with Greek olives, and herbs.
Brie. Try it with pears slices for a tangy flatbread.