According to this wrap-up of the event from ABC News, there were some really interesting rare varieties on display:
Some of the 200 cheese booths at Bra are dedicated to cheeses that risk disappearing if their producers are not assisted and encouraged. These include a Swedish goat cheese that is ripened in caves and is made with milk from a particular breed of goat, the Svensk Lantras, which is at risk of extinction. Only about a dozen cheesemakers still produce this cheese in the Jamtland and Harjedalen areas of Sweden...
Armenia is represented with a cheese called motal produced from goat's milk and wild herbs. It is kept in terra-cotta jars sealed with beeswax or a special local bread. The jars are then placed upside down on ashes in cold, dry cellars, where they are left to ripen for many months.
And the list goes on, from the Bulgarian green cheese of Tcherni Vit, to the Bosnian Herzegovina cheese in a sack, the Polish oscypek cheese, the Albanian Permet cheese and the Romanian branza de burduf, which is matured in pine bark or pig bladder.
Slow Food advocates for food that is "good, clean, and fair," and as such does important work in trying to save foods that may otherwise become extinct due to the ongoing industrialization of the world's cuisines. The cheese festival seems to underscore how beautifully heterogeneous the world of cheese really is. There are cheeses for every taste, made in almost every corner of the world. It also emphasizes the important place that cheese, in particular, has in human history and how the making and eating of it connects us to our past in ways many other foods can't.
However, some people criticize the organization for being precious and elitist, as it generally stands against agricultural practices that can serve to drive down the costs of food. Where do you stand on the Slow Food debate?
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