Cheese 2011 Inaugurated in Bra’s Main Piazza
Under blue skies and a hot sun, the eighth edition of Cheese was inaugurated today, Friday September 16, at 4 pm. The ceremony, held in Piazza Caduti per la Libertà, Bra’s main square, included speeches from Bruna Sibille, the mayor of Bra; Luigi Barbero, president of the Alba Bra Langhe Roero tourism board; Ferruccio Dardanello, president of Unioncamere; Roberto Russo, industry and trade councilor for the Cuneo Provincial Authority; Giovanna Quaglia, budget councilor for the Piedmont Regional Authority; and Roberto Rosso, Undersecretary of State for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy. With France this year’s guest of honor, the ribbon was cut by two French cheesemakers, Emmanuelle Coste and Hugues Lataste.
The opening ceremony included the presentation of the Premio Resistenza Casearia, the Cheese Resistance Award, which is given each year to cheesemakers, dairy producers, herders and farmers who have distinguished themselves for their commitment to quality cheese and the preservation of authenticity, tradition and taste. “They are artisans who refuse the shortcuts of modernity, despite the hard work, risks and isolation that brings,” said Roberto Burdese, president of Slow Food Italy. “In short, they resist. They resist also for us, keeping alive an irretrievable heritage of knowledge and protecting the environment and animal welfare.”
This year the award goes to four herders and cheesemakers with very different backgrounds, who all share a desire to continue with an age-old craft and to protect and promote their local area. Denis Fourcade is a 27-year-old shepherd from the Bearne Mountain Pastures Cheeses Presidium who tends his flocks on the French slopes of the western Pyrenees. Unlike many young people, he has decided to stay in the mountains and keep making traditional cheeses. Maddalena Aromatario comes from a shepherding family in Abruzzo but worked as a teacher for several years before the mountains called her back and she started making cheese with her brother Mariano. Their cheeses include Presidium Castel del Monte Canestrato as well as goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses made with vegetable rennet. Vullnet Alushani originally came to Puglia from Albania as an illegal immigrant and worked as a tomato-picker before being hired by a historic producer of Podolico Caciocavallo. Now he makes extraordinary cheeses and cares for 80 Podolica cows and 40 Garganica goats. Celestino Lussiana, 77, from Piedmont, has dedicated his life to his cows and goats, preserving the tradition of making Cevrin, a Slow Food Presidium since 2000. Now his four children are continuing his valuable work.
The last to speak was Carlo Petrini, Slow Food’s president and founder. He talked about the importance of bringing young people back to the countryside and of new investment in agriculture and new forms of distribution in order to come out of the current economic crisis, rather than a blind return to the old obsession with consumption. “We have to return land to young people,” he said. “We need pride in production, pride in farmers. Farmers, cheese agers, herders must be respected like other professions. Only this new economy will get us out of the crisis. We need new paradigms, new politics, new civil society, new respect for common goods, new ideas.” He concluded by presenting Remo Taricco with a special award to thank him for the 14 years the Bra cheese-seller has been volunteering at Cheese, helping teach young people the skills of serving cheese in the Great Hall. “I’m presenting this award in the name of the thousands of volunteers everywhere in the world who support Slow Food,” he said.