Dicth's cheese is a typical local product obtained by the fermentation in the seasoning ditch of the local cheese produced in the area between the Rubicone and Marecchia valleys. The ditch is a subterranean environment dug in tufa with a flask shape. It is 4/7 metres deep with a diameter of 2 metres. Probably, it dates back to the Middle Ages.
The custom of "bury" the cheese has been handing down for centuries, extremly important for local agricultural traditions. The origin of this usage is unknown, perhaps it was used to hide cheese from enemies, or to preserve it in case of siege. But some documents of the XV century show that this usage was practised also when Sogliano was under the MALATESTA's rule (from1278 to 1640 ).
The dicth is open once a year, at the beginning of August. From the first to the fifteen of the month, farmers, traders or whoever wants, can bring their cheese to mature in the dicth and take a jump in past time.
The owners of the ditch make a receipt to certify the deposit. This receipt will be shown when people come back to take the cheese again.
Cheese will be previously closed in small bags of cloth, better if they are white. On these small bags, the owners put an identification number related to every donor.
Some days before putting the cheese in the ditch, it occurs the rite of preparation of the dicth, when experts burns some straw inside of the ditch to eliminate humidity, and also to sterilize it from some germs that could damage the regular fermentation. Then, the walls of the ditch are covered with a coat of straw of 15 cm, to isolate tufa. The straw is substained by a scaffolding of vertical canes tied up orizontally by wooden circles; some wooden planks are put on the bottom of the ditch.
At this time, the ditch is ready to receive the cheese temporarily stored.
Then, the ditch is closed with wooden planks and sand to be reopened three months later (in November, in S.Caterina's day). When the miracle is happen the usual cheese, temporarily stored in August, has become DITCH'S CHEESE with an unique taste and fragrance, very different from the initial cheese, because of anaerobic fermentation and decreasing operation it could have a short weight.
Right now, sourrounded by acrid and pungent smells, people can take their small bags again by paying a fee for every kilogram of matured cheese.
The ditch's cheese, ready to be eaten, has different shapes, without rind, with a firm or semi-firm texiture depending on the initial cheese. Its colour is straw-yellow, its taste is pungent on the bitterish side. It is right its pungent perfume that makes every dish unique and unforgettable!
Among pleasures of "Malatesta's territories" you have to taste it combined with honey.

Traduzione effettuata da Ilaria Nardone, indirizzo e-mail: ilarianit@yahoo.it