a legend from the Italian valley of Primiero
table of contents The Legend of the Mazarol in English and Italian p. 4-6
What does the wordâ€œMazarolâ€? mean? The cheeses from the Mazarol
p. 7 p. 8-9
El Mazarol is a little man with red skin and hair, with wooden clogs (called Dalmede in the local dialect), with red trousers and corset and turquoise jacket, always in motion, appearing here and there when you least expect it. You have to be very carefull to not step on his footsteps because if you unfortunately put your foot on one of them, you will remain forever slave of his will. You forget the family and past memories and you are forced to work for him and for his cattle. The legend says that if men have become good cheesemakers, it is thanks to him.
“El Mazarol” è un ometto tutto rosso sia pelle, sia peli, con zoccoli di legno (Dalmede), con braghe e corsàt rossi e jachéta turchina, sempre in movimento, che compare qua e là quando meno te lo aspetti. Bisogna stare molto attenti alle sue orme perché se si mette disgraziatamente il piede sopra una delle sue impronte si rimane per sempre succubi della sua volontà, ci si dimentica della famiglia e dei ricordi passati e si è costretti a lavorare per lui e per il suo bestiame. La leggenda dice che se gli uomini sono diventati dei bravi casari, lo debbono proprio a lui.
And here’s how it happened.
Ed ecco come accade.
Once upon a time a beautiful, active and lively girl lived in Primiero, who enjoyed collecting wild berries in the forest. One day she inadvertently put her foot over a footprint of the Mazarol. Immediately with anguish she felt compelled to run into the woods to a cave , where she felt the urge to enter it. Inside she found a red little man that welcomed her and breathed on her face so that the girl blotted from her mind all her memories of the past. Then she busied herself willingly to clean the entire cave. As a reward the little man taught her how to make the butter. The girl watched fascinated the man who slammed with strenght the cream from the milk bucket and finally she tasted the good butter that seemed to have the flavor of all the flowers of the meadow.
Un tempo viveva a Primiero una bella ragazza, attiva e vivace, che spesso andava a raccogliere i frutti del bosco. Un giorno pose inavvertitamente il piedino sopra un’orma del Mazarol. Subito con angoscia si sentì costretta a correre nel bosco fino ad una caverna, dove si sentì spinta ad entrare. All’interno vi trovò un omino tutto rosso che le diede il benvenuto e le alitò sul viso in modo che la fanciulla cancellasse dalla sua mente ogni ricordo del passato. Poi la ragazza si diede da fare volentieri per pulire tutta la caverna. In premio l’ometto le insegnò come si faceva il burro. La ragazza guardava affascinata l’omino che sbatteva forte forte la panna raccolta dal secchio del latte e infine assaggiò l’ottimo burro che sembrava avesse il sapore di tutti i fiori del prato.
The next day the little man taught her how to make cheese with skimmed milk as a reward for her work. Another day the Mazarol made “ricotta”, and so the
Il giorno dopo con il latte scremato l’ometto le insegnò a fare il formaggio come premio per il suo lavoro. Un altro giorno il Mazarol fece la ricotta, e così i giorni passavano. La ragazza
Photo by Nicoló Simoni
days passed. The girl was cleaning , praying, and polishing while the Mazarol was making butter, cheese and “ricotta”. After some time, the girl became a very good cheesemaker too. After a long time since she came out of the cave, one day the girl was unexpectedly accompanied outdoors by the Mazarol on the meadows in the mountains where she saw sheeps and cows. The little man told her that she had to look after the animals, and woe to her if even one of them would get lost. The girl was happy with this new outdoors task. Following the herds she came to an outcrop of rock from which you had an overview on the entire valley and there... she saw her village, the houses, the church, the square... and then she got back her memory: Fiera di Primiero, her village, where her parents and her friends were...
spazzava, pregava, lucidava e il Mazarol faceva burro, formaggio, ricotta. Col tempo anche la ragazza divenne una bravissima “casara”.
Inexplicably freed from the spell, the girl remembered everything, she abandoned the animals and ran wildly down the valley, heedless of the squeaky warning of the Mazarol. To convince her to return the little man told her he would teach her to extract wax from whey. But the girl did not listen. She arrived in the village, went to her house where she could finally rejoin her family. The whole village came to visit and the girl told her story to everybody. When the festivities were over, the girl taught the villagers to get butter from milk , cheese and “ricotta”. These productes are still typical of the valley of Primiero, appreciated all over the world, especially in the last century when the butter from Primiero even reached India.
Liberata non si sa come dall’incantesimo, la ragazza ricordò tutto così, abbandonate le bestie, si mise a correre sfrenatamente verso valle, incurante dei richiami striduli del Mazarol. Per convincerla a tornare l’ometto le diceva che le avrebbe insegnato ad estrarre la cera dal siero. Ma la ragazza non gli diede retta. Arrivò in paese, raggiunse la sua casa dove poté riabbracciare i suoi famigliari. Tutto il paese accorse e a tutti raccontò la sua storia. Quando furono terminati i festeggiamenti, la ragazza insegnò ai compaesani a ricavare dal latte il burro, il formaggio e la ricotta. Questi prodotti sono tutt’ora tipici della valle di Primiero, apprezzati in tutto il mondo, soprattutto il secolo scorso quando il burro di Primiero raggiungeva perfino l’India.
However still no one has yet succeeded in extracting wax from whey.
Tuttavia ancor oggi nessuno è ancora riuscito ad estrarre la cera dal siero.
Dopo tanto tempo che non usciva dalla caverna, un giorno inaspettatamente la fanciulla venne accompagnata dal Mazarol all’aperto, sui prati in montagna e lì vide pecore e mucche. L’ ometto le disse che avrebbe dovuto badare agli animali e guai a lei se ne avesse perso un solo capo. La ragazza fu felice di questo nuovo compito da svolgere all’aria aperta. Seguendo le mandrie giunse su uno spuntone di roccia dal quale si dominava tutta la valle e lì… vide il suo villaggio, le case, la chiesa, la piazza… e allora le ritornò la memoria: Fiera di Primiero, il suo paese dove c’erano i suoi genitori, gli amici…
what does the word
The name of the Mazarol, might come from the dialect word: “mazar”, “ammazzare” in italian, which means to kill. Perhaps this was adding one more layer of scare to the figure. Legends are traditionally thought to be told to children, to prevent them to get into trouble. In this case to not go on their own far away in the forest.
THE CHEESES In the local dialect, “botìro” means butter and, at the times of Serenissima, the best butter for sale in Venice used to come from Primiero summer mountain pastures, among the dolomitic summits of Pale di San Martino and Lagorai Mountains. Its quality was extraordinary both for the floristic richness of the pastures of these valleys rich in water and for the accurate processing giving birth to a product that could be preserved for several months. The local summer mountain pastures used most of the cream to produce butter, to the extent that cheese - a low fat cheese - was almost a residual product. At the end of the summer, the big packages of butter were transported to the towns of the valley bottom and preserved in cool cellars. Except for the small quantity that remained for the local people, the rest of the butter was transported in December to Treviso and Venice, where it was sold.
IMAGES & INFORMATION: “Parco Naturale Paneveggio e Pale di S. Martino”
Tosèla is a fresh cheese characteristic of Primiero. Even though this wasn´t one of the cheeses taught to the people by the Mazarol, it is one of the most typical of the valley and the procedure to create it it is the one shown by the Mazarol. Tosela is produced with freshly milked cow’s milk, so that the fragrance of the mountain pastures does not get lost. The exceeding curd coming out of the mold is taken away with an operation called “tosatura” (meaning “shearing”): the name of the cheese derives from this operation. Cut into one-and-a-half centimeter thick slices, tosèla gets browned in the butter until the buttermilk is absorbed. Browned on both sides, it is served hot with polenta, mushrooms, and sausage.
MAZAROL FROM THE The “ricotta” or “poina” (in the local dialect) is similar to cottage cheese and it is made with cow’s milk, obtained adding the “agro” (acid whey) to the whey remaining after the cheese cooking. Afterwards, everything is cooked again. The ricotta has the classical shape of a truncated cone, with a size varying from 200g to 1,500g. Fresh product, with very white texture, small holes, tender and crumbly, with a sweet taste. In order to better preserve the product, it used to be smoked (poìna fumàda) on wooden boards or shelves over the fireplace. The rounds acquired therefore a dark rind and the characteristic smoky-yellow texture, with small and scattered holes and a greater consistency than the fresh product.
“Primiero” is one of the cheeses produced in the valley with cow’s raw milk. It has a straw-yellow color, with small and irregular holes, and consistency varying according to the maturation process. The perfume of mountain milk, the maturation method recalling the “washed rind” of French cheese, and the duration of the maturation process give it an intense and unmistakable aroma and taste. You can recognize notes of pasture, mountain aromatic herbs, ripe fruits, and toasted hazelnuts. “Primiero di malga” is a particularly fine cheese produced during the summer with the milk coming from the cows grazing in the summer mountain meadows. It has different maturation stages: at least 2 months, until 14-16 months for the most precious cheese rounds. It is ideal with polenta or to prepare tasty bread rolls.
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CARLOTTA SCALET - DESIGN, PHOTOS, TEXT