Santa Croce di Magliano Braided Cheese

Ark of taste
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The Santa Croce di Magliano braided cheese is a stretched curd cheese, which, due to its special processing, takes on the aspect of a braided cloth. Directly after being prepared the braid is white before turning white after a few days. The cheese is about one meter long and 20 cm wide.   Raw cow milk is mixed with whey from the previous day’s curds and the preparation requires several steps, the last of which involves laying the lengths of cheese out on a cotton cloth to form the braids. The product can be eaten immediately or after six to seven days. In order to fully appreciate all of the cheese’s sensory qualities, the Santa Croce di Magliano braid should be eaten as is, cutting 5-10 cm strips directly off the braid or unraveling it by hand.   The Santa Croce di Magliano braided cheese is a highly symbolic food during a Marian feast on the last Saturday of April. This cheese is still used today, wrapped around the shoulders, as an ornament for shepherds and animals both when they are blessed by the Patron Saint James: this is a rite good luck for the crops and animal productions for the year, for which the braid acts as both symbol and synthesis. This rite was praised in the beginning of the twentieth century in a poem in dialect by the poet Don Raffaele Capriglione.   The historic production are of this traditional product is the town of Santa Croce di Magliano, near Campobasso. Roughly 1,000 kg of the cheese are prepared every year. As there is only one person who produces and sells this cheese, the risk that this product – which is so closely tied to the region’s culture – might disappear is extremely high.

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