Beware, the short answer might as well be 'non'”! But I need to clarify and explain something, so bear with me and read the whole article 😉
First off, here’s a micro lesson of Italian: the verb 'mozzare' means 'to cut off'. It’s quite easy to see where the word 'mozzarella' comes from. In fact, if you have ever watched a dairyman making mozzarella, you will have noticed that he or she actually cuts off a chunk of cheese from a big batch.
This is important to know, because it's our premise.
👉🏻The word mozzarella alone says nothing about the cheese itself, but it relates to the actual gesture, the technique called 'mozzatura' used by artisans to get that soft, fresh, silky ball of cheese we all know - and love, most probably.
We need precision!
If we want to describe clearly what kind of cheese we’re talking about, then we need to add something to the word 'mozzarella'.
For example: I’m sure enough that most people know 'Mozzarella di Bufala', which is made with buffalo’s milk.
When we talk about mozzarella di bufala we are referring to that smooth ball of cheese, which is cut off a big batch and it’s made with buffalo’s milk only.
Interesting note: Mozzarella di bufala Campana was awarded the DOP label in 1996. DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, which means Protected Designation of Origin. It’s a label we give to food when it’s produced in a certain region in Italy and it’s meant to protect that food from similar products - typically lesser quality products.
OK, so far we understood first of all that when we say 'mozzarella' we only talk about the technique. Second of all, that the single word doesn’t say enough about the cheese itself.
Let's say that there is a nice ball of mozzarella in our fridge. That cheese is made with cow’s milk. What do we call it?
Maybe "mozzarella di mucca"?
We call it...drumroll...FIORDILATTE!
Curious fact: the three words 'fior di latte' literally mean 'flower of milk'. When we talk about that particular cheese, for some reason we connect those three words and use just one.
When we say fiordilatte, we refer to that ball of cheese, which is cut off a big batch and it’s made with cow’s milk only.
However, in the lingo used by many cheesemakers, fiordilatte is actually what's left of the milk once it's separated from the whey, that is less 'noble' and it's used to preserve the cheese itself.
Fiordilatte was given the STG label: STG stands for 'Specialità Tradizionale Garantita', which means Guaranteed Traditional Specialty. This ensures that the production method is respectful of the traditional procedures.
It’s the very same label that was given to PIZZA, or rather to the pizza making art, in 2009.
If you ever go and visit Italy, please be aware that the most common use of the word 'mozzarella' relates to cow’s milk cheese.
At this point I'm sure it's clear why I started by saying that there’s no difference between mozzarella and fiordilatte.
Fiordilatte IS actually a mozzarella! However, the other way around is not necessarily true. In fact, as I mentioned, we have to consider the chance of using buffalo’s milk instead.
⚠️ That said, let me give you a few words of warning:
If you ever go and visit Italy, please be aware that the most common use of the word mozzarella relates to cow’s milk cheese! In our shopping list we write down 'mozzarella' alone, nothing else, and when we head to the supermarket we grab something that’s actually some kind of fiordilatte.
We usually specify 'mozzarella di bufala' only when we mean the other kind of cheese, both in spoken and written language.
By the way, it doesn't matter if we talk about fiordilatte or mozzarella di bufala, as they are both considered pizza cheese par excellence. In fact, their use is allowed by the 'Disciplinare' of Neapolitan pizza, which includes rules & guidelines of Neapolitan Maestros, teachers of us all - professionals and home bakers.
Although both kinds of mozzarella are pretty common worldwide, the market also offers some alternatives. I covered a few of them in this video, you might find it interesting and useful 👍🏻
Hope you liked this article, if you found some value and you feel like supporting me, keep scrolling down and you will see several ways to give me a pat on my back!
See you next time 💙
Here's how you can support me!