Where Buffalo Rome; Mozzarella Herd: There Are 80,000 Head of Buffalo on Dairy Farms in the Humid Lowlands of Italy

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Byline: Charles Legge

QUESTION Where are the buffalo kept that provide Italy with itsmozzarella? I have never seen one there.

MOZZARELLA di bufala Campana, or buffalo mozzarella, is the most prized ofmozzarella cheeses, made exclusively from whole buffalo milk.

A cheese of ancient origin, mozzarella takes its name from a part of theproduction cycle when the curd, after being stretched, is mozzata (an Italianterm meaning 'lopped off') to obtain pieces of a suitable size.

The Italian water buffalo (bubalus bubalis) can be found in the hot, humidlowlands of the Campania region, between Naples, Salerno, Caserta, Benevento,Battipaglia, Eboli and Capaccio.

How the buffalo first got here is something of a mystery. It's generallythought that they came from India via the Middle East: some historians thinkthe buffalo may have trudged behind Hannibal's elephants into Italy around 216BC, others that they came with barbarian invaders in the 6th century AD.

In either case, following the fall of the Roman Empire the land around Paestumslowly turned into a swamp, fed by the Sele and Alento rivers. The inhabitantsmoved out but the water buffalo remained, ranging freely among the ruins.

For centuries, cowboys, known as butteri, would round up the wild animals,rough-and-ready milkmen would milk them and cheese makers would transform themilk into the elastic, white cheese balls.

The region's swamps were drained in the early 20th century, and today the waterbuffalo survive in captivity on farms equipped with pools or crossed by rivers.

To regulate their body temperature, they must be able to submerge themselves inwater several times a day. There are an estimated 80,000 head of buffalo inItaly now, all on dairy farms.

Marion Jacobs, Rome.

QUESTION What is the highest score by any Test cricket team batting firstbefore going on to lose the game?

THE timeless Test, by Australia against England at Sydney, lasted from December14-20, 1894, and resulted in a 10-run win for the visitors.

The Aussies amassed 586 runs in their first innings with Syd Gregorytop-scoring with 201 and George Giffen knocking 161.

England replied with 325 in the first innings, Lancashire's Albert Ward scoring75. Following on, the tourists made 437, with Ward again top run-getter with117. Set 177 to win, Australia were 135-3 at one stage and looked odds-on totake a 1-0 lead in the series.

But the hosts collapsed alarmingly and were dismissed for 166, Yorkshire'sgreat left-arm orthodox spinner Bobby Peel bowling unchanged to take 6-67 in 30overs.

This was a terrific victory for A. E. (Andrew) Stoddart's England team, who wonthe second Test by 94 runs, lost the next two but won the fifth and last by sixwickets at Melbourne to win the series 3-2.

Tony Matthews, Ashburton, Devon.

QUESTION Which other European cities have had the distinction of being EuropeanCapitals of Culture?

THE European City of Culture was launched on June 13, 1985, by the Council ofMinisters on the initiative of Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri.

The idea is for a city to be designated by the European Union for a period ofone year, during which it is given a chance to showcase its cultural life. Theinitiative has had a growing cultural and socio-economic impact on the visitorsit has attracted.

Past European Capitals of Culture are1985: Athens (Greece), 1986: Florence (Italy), 1987: Amsterdam (Netherlands),1988: West Berlin (West Germany), 1989: Paris (France), 1990: Glasgow (UnitedKingdom), 1991: Dublin (Ireland), 1992: Madrid (Spain), 1993: Antwerp(Belgium), 1994: Lisbon (Portugal), 1995: Luxembourg (Luxembourg), 1996:Copenhagen (Denmark), 1997: Thessaloniki (Greece), 1998: Stockholm (Sweden),1999: Weimar (Germany), 2000: Reykjavik (Iceland), Bergen (Norway), Helsinki(Finland), Brussels (Belgium), Prague (Czech Republic), Krakow (Poland),Avignon (France), Bologna (Italy), 2001: Porto (Portugal), Rotterdam(Netherlands), 2002: Bruges (Belgium), Salamanca (Spain), 2003: Graz (Austria),2004: Genoa (Italy), Lille (France), 2005: Cork (Ireland), 2006: Patras(Greece), 2007: Sibiu (Romania), Luxembourg and greater region (Luxembourg),2008: Stavanger and Sandnes (Norway), Liverpool (UK). …