In an effort to spare my fellow wine lovers the unfortunate experience I recently had on our La Famiglia tour, I would like to give you a quick lesson in Italian: the word ‘vermi’ means worms and under no circumstances should you accept anything given to you with that word in it.
Let me paint the scene: here we are in the little town of San Gregorio Magno in southern Campania visiting their relatively famous Bacchus Street, lined with hundreds of grottos dating from the 1700s and currently used as individually owned wine cellars. It’s a fascinating visit and one that I’ve done several times, but this is the first time that I was offered formaggio di vermi, evidently a local delicacy. Instead of asking what it was a priori, being a gentleman, I took a piece of bread which was coated with this formaggio di vermi. I innocently thought it was cheese from a nearby town called Vermi. It had a nasty taste and consistency that lingered in my mouth. Then I did what I should have done: I went up to someone in our group who was more fluent in Italian than I and asked what does vermi mean. She replied ‘worms’ and I said, can’t be because someone just offered me formaggio di vermi. To which she said: my grandfather used to love that stuff! And yes, it was indeed ‘worm’ cheese. I will spare my delicate readers the details of how this cheese is made; for the intrepid, here’s a link with all the vivid details:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_marzu