Milk made its appearance in our diet during the first attempts to domesticate animals and soon became an important part of the Mediterranean diet. Divine properties were ascribed to it and it became a symbol of life equal to blood, and in fact was known as “white blood”. Avicenna wrote that it was the udder which made the blood white, transforming it into milk. Ancient humans directed their interests to new techniques to enable the conservation of this new life blood. Nature being the mother of invention, it was noted that unexpected weather conditions affected the milk in such a way as to make it unusable, and given that there were an increasing number of mouths to feed, man began to discover ways to preserve milk such as curdling and, consequently, cheese.
In fact, Neolithic man discovered that the white rennet could also be eaten.
The first cheeses were white and made with goat’s milk, and were eaten fresh, aged or flavored with aromatic herbs.
According to an Arabic legend, cheese was born by chance: the story goes that a shepherd, transporting his milk by placing it in a goat’s stomach, discovered on his arrival that the milk had transformed into a white block – curd – as a result of the rennin enzymes found in the stomach which had served as his bag. Sardinian shepherds also used a waterskin made of goat’s or sheep’s skin able to hold between 20liters/5.3gallons and 40liters/10.6gallons of milk. Aristotle and Averroes studied the origin of the curd and noted that it was created by the rennet enzymes found in the stomachs of ruminant animals, as well as fig sap.