In pastoral Corsica, cheese holds pride of place. A staple of the diet since Neolithic times, today two thirds of the annual 2,500 tons of cheese it produces are from ewe’s milk, the rest from goat’s milk, flavoured with the maquis they graze on. The lion’s share of the island’s milk goes into making brocciu (pronounced brootche), the cheese most emblematic of Corsica.
It’s similar to ricotta, but with more character, made with sheep’s milk and whey drained in the baskets that give brocciu its distinctive form. It’s usually sold within 48 hours of its production, or salted, drained and ripened.
Mild fresh brocciu is available only from November to early July at the latest; the rest of the year it is demi-sec (half dried), brocciu passu (cultured), or brocciu vechju. It’s been AOP since 1983.
It’s probably impossible to live in Corsica and not like brocciu. It appears in everything: soup, beignets, or omelettes; stuffed in pasta, fish, vegetables; for breakfast with salt and pepper or jam, or as a dessert, in eau-de-vie, in fig jam, or baked in a fiadone or in canistrone (little cheese cakes), or as falculelli (cheese pressed, frittered and served on a chestnut leaf).
Images by Grégory Lejeune, Zouzou on Wikimedia Commons