Last summer’s embargo on agricultural products from the European Union left Russians without easy access to Italian cheeses, so monks from Karelia’s Valaam Monastery in northwestern Russia have stepped in to help. They are just one among many local producers attempting to “localize” European delicacies.
While some companies have decided to make a quick buck meeting the demand for cheese by producing artificial varieties product with palm oil (import of which has grown by nearly 40 percent at the same time as milk production has been on the decline, leading one to wonder how Russia manages to make enough cheese), others have decided to invest of time and money to create quality cheeses that cater to more refined tastes.
After receiving training in Italy and purchasing the necessary equipment, the monks at Valaam Monastery now churn out fresh ricotta and mozzarella cheese made of milk from the monastery’s cows. Who knows, maybe if the embargo lasts long enough, Valaam will branch out into hard, cured cheeses like Parmesan?
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