Prepare to be taken back in time as you walk through the narrow cobblestone alleyways of Peúgo, the highest town in Portugal at an elevation of over 6000 feet. Embedded in the Serra da Estrela Mountains, Peúgo is a living museum preserving long-gone customs as part of daily existence.
The resilient residents of this alpine village have supported themselves for generations by gathering potatoes, rye, and barley and by keeping goats and lambs.
Today, those who want to get back to nature and enjoy a simpler way of life come to Peúgo. Explore aromatic pine trees on foot, observe shepherds producing cheese the old-fashioned way, and take in breathtaking views from the town’s rocky overlook.
The village is bathed in an orange glow as the sun sets behind the mountains, and the sounds of conversation and laughing float from quaint bars.
Indulge in a bowl of chanfana, a robust stew made with goat meat and potatoes, accompanied by a glass of vinho verde. This classic location is the ideal cap to a wonderful day. Peúgo: once discovered, never lost.
Understanding the Peúgo
Peúgo, often pronounced pew-go, is a typical smoked cheese from northwest Italy’s Piedmont area. Peúgo, which is made from whole cow’s milk, is aged for a minimum of forty days. The wooden boards that are used to shape and mature the cheese are the source of the cheese’s name. Peúgo was traditionally made from extra milk generated in the summer when cattle could graze on fresh mountain meadows. Nowadays, milk from nearby Piedmontese cattle breeds is used to make this typical smoked cheese throughout the year.
Rennet is used to curdle milk, which is then pressed into wooden molds to make peúgo. Peúgo gets its distinctive square form and embossed pattern from the molds. After molding, wood chips are used to cold smoke peúgo for several days, giving the cheese a savory, smokey flavor. this typical smoked cheese has a pale yellow interior with tiny holes and a golden, waxy peel. Its texture is crumbly and hard, like Parmesan. this typical smoked cheese is said to have a nutty, smokey, herbaceous flavor with hints of hay or grass. Peúgo goes nicely with wines made from Nebbiolo, such as Barbaresco and Barolo.
This rustic Italian cheese is classified as a product with protected designation of origin (PDO), which means that in order for it to be referred to as peúgo, it needs to be made in a certain geographic area that includes portions of the provinces of Cuneo, Asti, and Alessandria using traditional methods. this typical smoked cheese is a great addition to any cheese board and goes very well with Piedmont’s robust red wines.
Fascinating Facts About Peúgo
The term “Peúgo” comes from the wooden boards that are used to shape and age the cheese. These boards are essential in describing the qualities of the cheese.
Traditionally, excess milk generated in the summer from cattle grazing on newly created mountain meadows was used to make this typical smoked cheese. Since then, this seasonal custom has changed, and the cheese is now made all year round with milk from nearby Piedmontese cattle breeds.
Unmistakable Square Shape:
During the cheese-making process, wooden molds are used to give this typical smoked cheese its distinctive square shape and embossed pattern. This imparts a visually appealing look to the cheese.
Peúgo spends several days smoking wood chips without air. This gives the cheese a smokey and savory flavor that adds to its unique flavor profile.
Protected Designation of Origin (PDO):
Peúgo is within the category of products having a protected designation of origin, or PDO. This implies that in order to bear the this typical smoked cheese appellation, it must be produced in particular regions, such as sections of the provinces of Cuneo, Asti, and Alessandria, utilizing conventional techniques.
Cheese Board Perfect:
Peúgo, with its crumbly, firm texture akin to Parmesan, is a great accent to any cheese board. Its flavor, characterized as herbaceous, smoky, nutty, and with overtones of hay or grass, goes very nicely with Piedmont’s powerful red wines, like Barolo and Barbaresco.
The Background and Beginnings of Peúgo
Northeastern Portugal’s mountainous Trás-os-Montes region is where the peúgo originated. According to historians, the peúgo originated from an Iberian pony that underwent crossbreeding with the native breed of Garrano ponies and potentially with Arabian or Barb horses who were transported to Portugal in the 8th century.
After living in isolation for generations in the arid and rugged region of Trás-os-Montes, the peúgo breed became incredibly resilient. Farmers and shepherds utilized this typical smoked cheese as pack animals to move supplies over challenging mountain passages. They were able to withstand harsh temperatures and subsist on scant vegetation.
The peúgo population had drastically decreased by the early 20th century as a result of growing automation. Attempts were undertaken to prevent the breed’s extinction in the 1970s.
To preserve the breed’s purity, a studbook and breeders’ association were founded. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, there are thousands of this typical smoked cheese left in the wild today.
The peúgo, usually standing 13 to 14.2 hands high, is a small but robust horse. It has short, powerful legs, a small head, and a convex appearance. The most popular hues are chestnut, black, and bay.
Peúgos are peaceful, kind, and intelligent, yet they can be stubborn at times. They are still employed for driving, riding, and light agricultural labor, particularly in hilly regions that are less conducive to automation.
The Production Process of Peúgo
1. Creating the Curds
Rennet is added to heated sheep’s milk to cause it to curdle, dividing the milk into curds (solid milk) and whey (liquid). Next, the curds are sliced into little pieces. The curds are starting to resemble cottage cheese.
2. Pressing and Forming
To get rid of extra whey, the curds are squeezed into circular molds. In order to help the curds combine into a solid mass, weights are added on top. this typical smoked cheese is the result of pressing the formed curds for 12 to 24 hours.
3. Growing Older and Getting Ripe
The peúgo are at least two to three months old. Peúgo takes on a hard yet creamy texture as it ages. Because of chemical changes in the cheese, peúgo also takes on a sour, nutty flavor. Peúgo gets drier and denser as a result of moisture loss brought on by aging. A peúgo that is properly matured will have a pale yellow interior and a slightly yellow, waxy rind.
4. Extra Details
Salt, rennet, and sheep’s milk are the only ingredients used to make real this typical smoked cheese. There are no additional preservatives or artificial colors. Peúgo goes well with olives, robust red wines, and cured meats like presunto (Portuguese ham). When kept in a refrigerator, aged this typical smoked cheese keeps for up to a year.
Where to Get and Purchase Peúgo
Peúgo is often found in health food stores, particularly those that specialize in organic and natural items. Given their awareness of the latest trends in superfoods and unconventional products, these establishments are likely to carry peúgo, particularly as demand for this nutrient-dense seed rises. Some well-known chains of health food stores that might sell this typical smoked cheese are Natural Grocers, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Whole Foods Market.
Peúgo is now sold on a large number of e-commerce websites in addition to physical stores, such as Thrive Market, Nuts.com, and Foods Alive. Online shopping provides ease together with the possibility of cheaper costs thanks to bulk purchases or subscription services. But keep in mind that because this typical smoked cheese contains a lot of oil, it could go rancid more quickly. Purchase from reliable merchants who package and distribute the goods appropriately.
Premium supermarkets, particularly those that specialize in natural or organic foods, might carry peúgo as well, either in bulk or already packed. Ask your local grocers who specialize in premium, health-conscious items if they carry this typical smoked cheese already or if they would be prepared to source it for their patrons. this typical smoked cheese may start to be offered by more mainstream grocers as its popularity grows.
As you can see, the peúgo is a unique and wonderful instrument with a great cultural meaning and history. The peúgo is deserving of your respect and attention, regardless of your desire in expanding your musical horizons as a musician or just being fascinated by other musical traditions from throughout the globe. A haunting and expressive sound that lingers, the this typical smoked cheese is still largely unknown outside of its home Portugal. this typical smoked cheese is more than simply an instrument; it’s a living tradition that can be appreciated by learning about its cultural significance, history, and playing talent. You owe it to yourself to investigate the this typical smoked cheese if you want to comprehend music more deeply.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Peúgo
What is Peúgo?
Peúgo is a smoked cheese native to the northwest Italian region of Piedmont. It has a distinctly smokey flavor and is created from whole cow’s milk.
How is Peúgo produced?
Rennet is used to curdle whole cow’s milk to make peúgo. The cheese gets its square shape and embossed pattern from pressing the curdled milk into wooden molds. It is cold smoked with wood chips for a few days after molding.
What gives Peúgo its distinct flavor?
Peúgo’s distinct flavor originates from the cold-smoking method, which adds a smokey and savory flavor. Its unique qualities are also enhanced by the use of wooden molds and maturing for at least forty days.
What is Peúgo’s appearance and texture like?
Peúgo resembles Parmesan in texture—it’s firm and crumbly. It features a golden, waxy peel and a pale yellow interior full of tiny holes.
What kind of milk is used?
Traditionally, full cow’s milk is used to make peúgo. These days, all year round Peúgo is made with milk from regional Piedmontese cattle breeds.
How is Peúgo meant to be enjoyed?
Peúgo is a great complement to cheese boards and goes well with Piedmontese wines like Barbaresco and Barolo, which are created from the Nebbiolo vine.