“Musulupa”: the typical cheese of the Greek area of Reggio Calabria

14.04.2022

Musulupa is a typical cheese (fresh and unsalted) produced in the Greek area in the province of Reggio Calabria.

Modeled in traditional molds of carved mulberry wood (the Musulupare), with an anthropomorphic or disc shape and ritually consumed especially during the Easter period.

A NECESSARY PREMISE

Bova (Chòra tu Vùa is its name in the Grecanic language) is the cultural capital of Bovesìa (the Greek area in the province of Reggio Calabria).

It is one of the southernmost cities of the Italian peninsula in Aspromonte National Park and included, among other things, in the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

Further, the Bovesìa (also known as the Calabrian Greek-speaking area) still retains an immense historical-cultural heritage. Here the Hellenophonic traces are still very strong as a linguistic and cultural presence.

In fact here the culture Hellenophonic from dominant it became subordinate and even today only the elders speak the Ancient Greek dialect of Calabria, while also strong Byzantine-Greek traces are still present both in the uses and in the popular tradition.

The Griko community in Calabria

THE MUSULUPA CHEESE

Musulupa is a typical cheese that is actually widespread not only in Bova but throughout the Greek Calabrian area, also known as Musulucu or Musulupu.

It is fair to observe that the traditional cuisine of the Greek area, although it might seem spartan, mountain, is actually full of exclusive flavors and specialties.

Specialties good to know and good to eat like, for example, Lestopitta (a kind of unleavened bread) or Macaroni (local pasta) with goat sauce.

It is a cuisine of poor at the origins that is still today a great trend in the Greek universe, practiced in the houses and in the typical restaurants of the area…but let’s go back to the Musulupa.

Musulupa cheese and Musulupare (containers)

 

Musulupa is the typical cheese (fresh and without salt) very similar to tuma generally produced with mixed milk (sheep and goat) modeled in particular molds or shapes, the Musulupare.

The Musulupare, incredible works of popular art handcrafted by the shepherds of the Greek area with carved mulberry wood that reproduce anthropomorphic and disc figures.

They have decorations that refer to very complex geometric elements and in any case of evident Greek stylistic code.

Some historians believe that the Anthropomorphic cheese of Musulupa refers to the image of the Madonna. Others, however, considering the particularly accentuated forms, argue that they are female figures, like the Mother Goddess.

In any case, very ancient themes and elements are evident, to which, only after a long time, those of religiosity have been added Byzantine, like the cross.

Musulupare

CONSUMPTION AND RITUAL USE OF MUSULUPA

As we already know from the mold of Musulupara the typical cheese of the Greek area of Calabria is obtained, the Musulupa.

These forms of typical cheese were and continue to be produced by the shepherds of the Greek Calabrian area to be consumed during the early hours of Easter day.

Usually it is cooked with a rich omelette of eggs and with sausages, all fried together in oil or lard.

Others, on the other hand, recall the ritual consumption of the Musulupa on the day of the Monday of the Angel.

In any case, certainly the most curious and fascinating aspect of the Musulupa is his anthropomorphic form.

Form that, together with the production and ritual consumption during the Easter period, leads to hypothesize a connection with the rite of the Pupazze or Persephone (a procession of great female figures, typical of Bova).

Rite that is celebrated every year in the characteristic village of Bova on Palm Sunday.

Process of Musulupa preparation

The Pupazze or Persephone di Bova are, as said, female anthropomorphic figures made with intertwined olive leaves (“bastoncini” sticks in dialect) applied to the stiddhe, that is supports of wild reeds finally decorated with colored ribbons, lace, branches of mimosa, flowers, fruit and seasonal first fruits such as olives, broad beans, bergamot, mandarins and Musulupe.

The main characteristics in the production of Musulupa , the typical cheese of the Greek area in the province of Reggio Calabria, are the Musulupare (traditional molds of carved mulberry wood) and the seasonal cyclicality with consumption and ritual use during the Easter period.

A typical Calabrese cheese whose shapes refer to ancient cults whose consumption and use is still ritual.

A small and very fragrant citrus: the Calabrian lime

12.03.2022

Limon Calaber fructu minima rotundo angustioribus et brevioribus foliis”: this is how in 1726 Paolo Bartolomeo Clarici identified the Calabrian round lemon by describing its characteristics.

Lime (Citrus limetta) is a citrus fruit characterized by a very delicate scent and a yellow-green skin, with a sweetish or slightly acidic and not very savory pulp, and is another of the Protected (Traditional) Agri-food Products of Calabria (PAT).

The variety grown in the upper Ionian coast of Cosenza is Citrus limetta umbilicata hispanica or Spanish limo.

Calabrian Limetta

The fruit stands out for being small and round, with an umbo, almost completely surrounded by a deep groove.

Dialectally called piretta, it has been cultivated for centuries in the Piana di Sibari, where it has found an ideal climate for its adaptation.

It is also known by the name of Calabrian limoncello or Calabrian lime, used a lot in the preparation of liqueurs and cocktails.

It has an intense aroma, rich in essential oils, with a fine peel; details that give it excellent organoleptic qualities and that make it one of the products of excellence of its kind. According to some, it is a hybrid between cedar and another citrus fruit that is not better defined.

Limetta cocktails

The origin and history of Citrus limetta or lima dulcis (as Giovanni Battista Ferrari defined it at the end of 1500, in his work “Hesperides”), are very fragmentary and little is known about its past.

It almost certainly spread from India (where different varieties of sweet limes are still grown today, called in Hindi musambi or mosambi, with which sweet and refreshing juices are made) to Asia Minor, Egypt and other countries of the Mediterranean basin, in which it has been present for many centuries.

It forms small trees or large erect, branched and thorny bushes, its flowers are white and fragrant, single or in inflorescence, and are produced from spring to autumn.

Among the sweet citrus fruits it is the least known, but it is sought after by connoisseurs who appreciate both the beauty and the goodness and taste of this fruit. As with most citrus fruits, sweet limes are rich in vitamin C and potassium, and are used to fight the flu and colds.

Fresh Limetta slices fall into water

Their juice is rich in substances that stimulate the digestive system by helping the stomach to regulate gastric juices, and this is why in Calabria, with its rinds, an excellent piretta liqueur is made for the end of a meal.

This juice with a pinch of salt is also useful against constipation and nausea.

It also increases appetite, purifies the blood, is highly thirst-quenching and cools the body.

In India, it is one of the most consumed among citrus juices, and in oriental cuisine it is also used to marinate meat (as it enhances its flavor without contrasting it with the acidity that other citrus fruits have) and to dress salads.Finally, it is used in the food industry for the production of soft drinks, jams and sorbets.

More Calabrian Limetta

This citrus fruit is particularly cultivated to obtain the essential oil from its peel.

The essence, very fragrant and similar to that of lemon but more delicate, is appreciated by the perfume industry to create unusual perfumes, detergents and refined deodorants.

Calabrian limetta citrus: another small but great fruit made in Calabria, to discover and taste!