Pronunciation: [proh-voh-LOH-nee vahl-pah-DAH-nah]
Although originally from southern Italy's Basilicata region, this cow's-milk cheese is now also made in the Valpadana (the Po Valley) of northern Italy and labeled Provolone Valpadana. Provolone has a firm texture and a mild, tangy flavor. It has a pale- to golden-yellow rind and comes in various forms, though the squat pear shape is most recognizable. Most provolone, called dolce (mild), is aged for two to three months and has a pale-yellow color and delicate flavor. However, some, called piccante (strong), are aged six months to a year or more. As the cheese ripens, the color becomes a richer yellow and the flavor more pronounced. Both styles are sometimes smoked, which produces brownish-golden rinds and smoky flavors. Provolone is an excellent cooking cheese and aged versions can be used for grating. Provolone is also now manufactured in the United States.