When you think about dairy animals, you might envision prancing little sheep baa-ing their way through a dewy field. You might imagine the soulful-eyed cows that graze slowly in the swaying grass, or the rambunctious goats bucking down their siblings and eating anything and everything they can find.
Most folks don't think of buffalo when they think about dairy, and those folks don't know what the hell they are missing.
Water buffalo are bad-ass bovine animals that are like night to the day of their domesticated distant cousin, the cow. After millennia of breeding, most cows are gentle and passive—pushovers, almost. You can make them do almost anything. Ever hear of cow tipping?
But have you ever tried to get close enough to a buffalo to push it over? Yeah, thought not. Water buffalo like to do their own thing, and aren't about being told what to do, or touched, or looked at for too long. Basically, they are the teenagers of the dairy world, and even when you want to bitch-slap that 14-year-old who sasses you, no good will come from you trying to slap a buffalo, 'cause they are like a hundred times bigger than you.
Mozzarella made from cows' milk is good, and sometimes even great. Mozzarella made from water buffalo milk is euphoric, almost orgasmic.
So why do dairy folk deal with buffalo at all? Well, it all comes down to their milk, and water buffalo have some tasty-ass, super-fatty milk. Unlike that of the sheep—which also produce fat-enriched milk—water buffalo milk is mellow and kind of yogurt-y, with none of that woolly funk that sheep can give off. It's really a lactic joyride of pure fat goodness. Mozzarella made from cows' milk is good, and sometimes even great. Mozzarella made from water buffalo milk is euphoric, almost orgasmic. Silken in texture, and gooey in the center, this cheese is basically a porno in lactose form. And although the two cheeses are made in the same way, they are completely different in every other respect.
There are two brothers in northern Italy making some unique, tripped-out creations from buffalo milk. Their Casatica di Bufala (pronounced like "erotica," but with a "ka" at the beginning) is a bloomy-rinded wonder that is both sweet and supple, like a velvet thong on a fresh Brazilian, and yet tangy and rich, like skinny dipping in a warm vat of chocolate pudding. Get those two together, and watch out, world.
They also make Quadrello di Bufala, which is basically a take on Taleggio, but because it is made for buffalo and not cow's milk, it's slightly tart, yet still clover-like, as if a SweeTart made sweet, sweet love to a honeysuckle.
Dairy animals are great. We give them food, and they give us milk. It's a happy relationship and everyone knows what's expected of them. Water buffalo might be a bit scary, but boy, are they worth it.