Aprender a crear resiliencia comunitaria a través de la comunicación y la tecnología
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You not be a cheesemaker by birth, but you can certainly become one out of passion.
This was Salvatore Passalacqua’s case, who came from a family bakers and later became a dairy researcher and later an entrepreneur for fun when, at the end of the 1980s, the results of his experiments gave rise to great interest amongst professionals.
Using exclusively milk from farms in the neighboring municipalities (Palazzo Adriano, Prizzi, Santo Stefano Quisquina, Bivona, Cammarata and Castronovo di Sicilia), Passalacqua transfers all the organoleptic properties, the identity-cultural value and the thousand-years old husbandryl and dairy practice to his cheese, which – he proudly says: “comes form the high pastures in the Sican Peaks, the home to the best quality milk in Sicily according to Regional Consortium for Dairy Supply Chain (CoRFiLaC).
Social sustainability is guaranteed by offering employees above average salary and well-being as well as providing workers rights in the workplace. Economic sustainability is the result of carefully balancing between expenses and investments and - occasionally - borrowing to pay suppliers, which includes the possibilità for a businessman/woman to financially expose him/herself personally.
The environment in general and the territory in particular are at the heart of Passalacqua's corporate philosophy, with a specific focus on animal welfare and the quality of the pasture. It is necessary – he claims: "to make sure the animals have accesses to as much grazing as possible in th best suitable territory" so as to favour "a wild or semi-wild type of breeding system, capable of exploiting the vegetational features of the local flora and woods," . Other important factors are the climate,the seasonal cycle and cooling practices, which influence in the micro-biological, nutritional, aromatic and flavour properties of the end product.
The company leaves 5 hectares of land surrounding it uncultivated to protect the integrity of the slopes and to prevent hydrogeological instability.
TRADITION AND INNOVATION
Starting from the traditional cheeses of the Sicilian hinterland, recorded since the Odyssey (ricotta and sheep primosale, Pecorino Siciliano and Canestrato), Passalacqua combined real historical reconstructions (Tuma Persa, Fior di Garofalo) and inventions from scratch (Narangi).
Tuma persa, in particular, is the rescue operation to which the Passalacqua owes his fortune. Mentioned by Targioni-Torzetti in 1878 and again by Romolotti in 1936 as Cacio bufalo, and contrary to what the original name suggests, it is a cheese made with millk of semi-wild cows fed with pasture and an integrattion of hay. Tuma persa intentionally undergoes two cycles of abandonment (hence persa, it abandoned/lost) of 8-10 days each to allow noble molding and, subsequently, washed, brushed, salted and seasoned, capped with olive oil and black pepper, and left to mature for 9 months in cooled oak or holm shelves. The same way it was made 150 years ago.
But one must not let ourselves be caged in by the past, and indeed “to look into the future means that tradition can be improved, that wings can be added to the roots”. So, Passalacqua claims that "If fire wood is not essential, why not use the gas, which is cleaner?" and again: "if soft cheeses were not part of the dairy tradition in Sicily, what prevents us from trying our hand at their production today?".
VALUES AND DISCIPLINARIES
Passalacqua is a founding member of the National Association of Cheeses under the Sky, of the Consortium for the protection of Metodo Nobile, the latter urging farmers to avoid overusing natural resources. He also contributed to the establishment of CoRFiLaC together with prof. Giuseppe Licitra (University of Catania). It is difficult to list all the prizes, but among them, two stand out in Passalacqua’s thought: the National Gold Medal for best canestrato cheese, which he was awarded in Milan (2016) and the National Silver medal in the pasture cheeses catagory, which he got at Pandino Festival.
SCALABILITY AND RESILIENCE
Once the ongoing expansion plan is completed, Salvatore Passalacqua expects the company turnover will grow by a factor of 5-6. Referring to crises, he argues that "you resist them by believing in the project and by [asking yourself] what you are willing to give up for its implementation."