The Italian Cheese Is Not Made By The Italians: There’s An Indian Connection To It

By Karanveer Singh

Italy is famous for quite a lot of things all over the world and one of the most prominent of them is the Italian Cheese. But what most of the world doesn’t know is that the makers of the Italian Cheese, which is supplied all over the world, are not Italians.

In the 1980s to 1990s, the Italians had a crisis in their agricultural and dairy sector. The sector lacked human resources to work on the cattle and cheese business as the new generation of educated Italians were unwilling to do that kind of work.

It left the Italian cheese to be at a significantly dangerous position.

What came to rescue were the Sikh immigrants from Punjab who were masters of the agricultural and cattle process.

They migrated around the world seeking jobs and security. They settled in Italy because the kind of work being provided was very familiar and more or less, similar to that of Punjab.

Image source: The Indian Express

The climate conditions were also favourable. The Sikhs took the responsibility of handling cattle and carrying upon the cheese making process upon themselves and in return they got some handsome wages and employment benefits such as housing facilities, etc.  from the Italian owners.

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Since then, it has been more than 30 years that the majority of the work of the cheese making process is handled by the Sikh immigrants who have now settled there as an Italian citizen.

A generation of Sikh immigrants have now been involved in the making of the beloved Parmesan and Mozarella formaggio supplied all over the world.

However, there is a flip side to the story in the recent times. The next generation of the well settled Sikh immigrants have been provided a good education and they no longer want to be working as a farmer or cheese makers.

This new generation of Sikh immigrants are Italian citizens who aim to become lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats, doctors and get into similar professions, thus, the same problem of lack of workers in the field has been gradually been recurring in the country which obviously worries the Italian owners.

The situation is very similar to the situation of the North Indian farmers in India who have been employing farmers from other parts of the country in their field since their children no longer wish to do that, which is basically becomes a cycle in itself.

Italy has provided the Sikh immigrants with enough opportunities while retaining their identity but until a new population of hard working immigrants from some other developing countries takes the job, the cheese will be made by the Sikhs carrying on the legacy of Italians until they can.

(Feature Image from The New York Times)


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