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Gary Barlettano

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Provolone, A Lament Of Sorts

by Gary Barlettano » Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:24 pm

When I was a kid growing up in Sopranoland, provolone ("brivalone" to the intiated) was almost as hard as a grating cheese and smelled really bad. (The worse it smelled, the better it tasted.) We referred to it as "feet cheese." Every so often someone would bring home one of those pear-shaped, sweet (dolce) ones. We called them "potato cheese" and left it at that. They never got eaten, although we did have fun twirling them around on the string.

Nowadays when you go to the deli or a sandwich shop, you get what's called "slicing provolone." This stuff has the consistency of Kraft slices and no taste. Is this what the world has come to?

I mean I did find some sliced up provolone from Bel Gioso which, when warmed, had a mildly provolonish flavor, but ...

Another really awful development is the melting of provolone on pizza or anywhere else. If you melted a real sharp (piccante) provolone, you'd die. It smells awful. It's three year's worth of used gym socks. I don't get it. Is it time for me to leave the Earth?

OK, here are a couple provolone links for those who are interested:
Provolone Valpadana in Italian.
Consorzio Provolone Valpadana in both Italian and English.
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Robin Garr

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Re: Provolone, A Lament Of Sorts

by Robin Garr » Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:36 pm

Well ranted, Gary, sad to say. I would note that Italian delis around the country still make a Provolone that's got some flavor, albeit very mild by the standard of Bronx Italian of a past generation. If you can find "Aged Provolone," even better. But you're right, times change, and we can't call them back.

In the spirit of the thread, you may remember the old joke about the kid in the Army barracks who got a care package from his mother back home on Arthur Avenue. After lights out, he and his buddies got back up, opened the box and were enjoying a midnight snack, whereupon the sergeant detected an odd smell. He came storming into the room and yelled, "OK, what's that I smell!?" A nervous voice responded, "It's provolone, sir." "What in hell is the matter with him," the sarge roared back. "Did he throw up?"
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John Tomasso

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Re: Provolone, A Lament Of Sorts

by John Tomasso » Sat Sep 09, 2006 12:50 am

Gary - I'm on the road, and in fact reporting from the very Arthur Ave Robin mentions in his joke. I can assure you that the provolone we both know and love is alive and well here.
It is also available by mail order - won't the UPS deliveryperson be curious? - and I will be happy to provide you with the links you need to obtain some, if you would like.

Slicing provolone isn't provolone - I don't know what the heck it is.......


When I was a kid working in the deli, we used to hang those huge provolone torpedoes from hooks - they'd "sweat" quite a bit of fat out in the summer as they dried - so we used to put baggies around the bottoms and secure them with string - a sort of provolone condom, if you will.
Anyway, more than once, one of those full bags broke when we were taking the cheese down, spewing stinky provolone juice all over us. Just try getting a date after that.
Yeah, those were the days.
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Gary Barlettano

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Re: Provolone, A Lament Of Sorts

by Gary Barlettano » Sat Sep 09, 2006 9:13 am

Robin Garr wrote:A nervous voice responded, "It's provolone, sir." "What in hell is the matter with him," the sarge roared back. "Did he throw up?"


That' what I'm talkin' about! :lol:
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Gary Barlettano

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Re: Provolone, A Lament Of Sorts

by Gary Barlettano » Sat Sep 09, 2006 9:18 am

John Tomasso wrote:Gary - I'm on the road, and in fact reporting from the very Arthur Ave Robin mentions in his joke. I can assure you that the provolone we both know and love is alive and well here.
It is also available by mail order - won't the UPS deliveryperson be curious? - and I will be happy to provide you with the links you need to obtain some, if you would like.


I just got back from a visit home near Newark, NJ and was indeed able to find "the good stuff," but I had to look too hard. That effort partially motivated my rant. But I will still gladly take those addresses. Even North Beach doesn't cut it sometimes.

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