The archaic chant of the Conciato di San Vittore.


We are certain that San Vittore del Lazio is not in the southern Italian region of Calabria. Despite this there are two guardians protecting this cheese: one them comes from Reggio Calabria and is called Teodoro Vadalà, a professor of Agriculture turned cheese-maker, and the other is Vincenzo Mancino, who migrated from the southern Italian area of Lucania and is the famous founder of D.O.L. (di orginie laziale, which means originating from the Lazio region of Italy), a shop located in the turbulent outskirts of Rome that deals with specialty foods. They are a remarkable couple: watching them work together makes you want to roll up your sleeves and get involved.



On the Aurunci Mountains, a famous land in the south of the Lazio region on the border with Campania, there is an ancient sheep farming tradition. Here varieties of cheeses that have been passed on for thousands of years have made this an area rich of resources: there was a time when sheep herds would move from one side to the other, grazing their way to Abruzzo; they were lands of transhumance traversed by foot like the brotherhoods do to this day during Holy Week, when they sing in each village, in each church, walking miles and miles and bearing as unique witness just a single chant. A single chant that they perform just one day of the year.
This cheese in my opinion has many similarities with the chants of the brotherhoods, a unique chant of a lost heritage and it’s easy to believe Vincenzo Mancino when he says that this cheese is the best in the world despite, he adds, “having become both the cross and delight of my life”.



Now, regardless of the fact of whether one likes it or not, one must recognize the archaic message that comes from far away and that Vincenzo cannot but pass on. In pretty much the same way that must have occurred years ago to Diego Carpitella when he came across the “Miserere” of Sessa Aurunca, which had been passed on orally for centuries and was only performed on Good Friday.
A cheese of the Lazio region saved by a man that speaks a completely different dialect from the one of the area and that perseveres in its production, which is why I think it’s fair that Vincenzo should leave his business in Rome two or three times a week to come here to produce it with his own hands: he knows this is his mission.



This small cheese mold made from crude top quality sheep milk is seasoned in a mixture of spices: garlic, coriander of Lazio, thyme, aniseed, bay leaf, juniper, oregano, sage, rosemary, wild fennel, marjoram, coriander and black pepper that give its peculiar smell.
The cheese is left to rest for 9 days. The flavour is rich, full and scented, while the flesh is very white, chalky and mellow, with scents of pastures and spice feast.
To listen to the chants of the brotherhoods one must visit the Aurunci Mountains on Good Friday.
 


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