Romano Cheese

Relationship: Im/migrant
Sheep grazing on the countrysie
Sheep grazing on the countrysie

My dad is from Brooklyn. His parents are from Sicily. His aunt, uncle and cousins still live there. They farm the land and grow fruits. His uncle is also a shepherd with about 300 sheep. He makes Romano cheese from sheep’s milk. When my father was about my age, he and his family would spend the summers in Sicily. One of the things he enjoyed doing was to go sheep herding with his uncle. They would take the sheep for long walks across the countryside. The sheep would graze along the way until they stop to get water. After drinking, they would continue to graze and at the end of the day they return to the ranch. This would take all day starting at 5am and ending at 9pm.  Very early in the morning is when his uncle would milk the sheep. After milking, there would be several pails filled with milk. He would then start a fire. He would pour the milk into a cauldron and start cooking the milk while stirring with a long stick. The milk begins to solidify into ricotta cheese, and what’s leftover is a thin liquid. The cheese can be eaten that way with the liquid.  But the main purpose is to create a hard cheese. The ricotta cheese is scooped and strained into containers where it is left to harden. The containers give the cheese its shape and ridges.  After that, cheese is ready to be sold. His uncle takes the cheese to the farmer's market.  It’s really fascinating for me to find out that I have relatives in another country who make something many people here in the United States use often. It makes me proud of my heritage. Sprinkling some cheese on my pasta will never be quite the same.

Place(s): Sicily, Italy

– SM

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant