Here’s one for the”who’d have thunk” file.
For those who like and know their fancy cheeses, some of the best buffalo mozzarella is supposedly made in the Naples region of Italy. Buffalo mozzarella is rich, creamy and generally considered worthy of all the dramatic gesticulation for which the Italians are famous. The artisanal variety of this mozzarella is found in south Naples and is considered among the finest. I’m no expert on the history of cheese but I’ve always thought that Naples’ buffalo mozzarella is one of those all-Italian things that has been around for centuries.
Mi spiace, ma no. (That’s “I’m sorry, but no” in Italian for those who can’t be bothered to Babelfish. At least that’s what Babelfish promised me.)
Mozzarella may be Italian but it seems water buffaloes are a relatively recent addition to the Naples scenery. Apparently, they landed up there because some Punjabi farmer/businessman sent a herd of water buffaloes to Naples in order to show his admiration and support for — wait for it — Mussolini. It all sounds entirely incredible, which is why I suspect it may be true. That and the fact that I learned this from an Italian gent who seemed equally confuzzled by the idea of Punjabi water buffaloes wallowing at the origins of an Italian cheese tradition.
But there you have it. Cheesy things that Italy wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for enthu Indians: Kabir Bedi as Sandokan (the link is a video and highly and recommended) and buffalo mozzarella.