treccia

The treccia (braid) is a simple enough thing: three strands woven together to make one bigger thing. And in Italy, its form goes beyond the standard Anglophone definition to include food. For decades, I assumed one could only braid hair or gold, but then I moved to Rome and encountered my first treccia di mozzarella at Casa Bleve. Granted, it had been imported from Paestum, as all amazing mozzarella should. Three long strands of the buffalo milk cheese were braided together, creating a consistency and texture that is discernibly different than the standard ball. I’m no scientist, but I guess this has to do with surface area, moisture levels, or something fancy like that. And isn’t it a scientific fact that three pieces of mozzarella always better than one? Yes, that is why it tastes better.

And the treccia approach is not just for cheese anymore. One of my favorite bakeries in Rome, Acqua e Farina in Testaccio, does a series of treccie made from pizza dough twisted around fillings: olives, walnuts, prosciutto cotto, and olive pate are all fair game. The outcome is a crusty outside, a spongy center, and a moist intermediate section where the fillings are in contact with the dough. Now if I could only get them to weave in some mozzarella di bufala