La Toma originates in the alpine pastures, gradually spreading towards the plain over the centuries. It is the best known Piedmontese cheese and probably one of the oldest. It is certainly the cheese that best represents the character of this region.
The ancient relationship with deep roots that binds Piedmont to its Toma is reflected in the local language and history. The first evidence relating to the production and use of cheese in Piedmont dates back to the 11th century, when it was mainly an ingredient of the “pastus”, food distributed to the poor or to workers.
It seems that the most popular cheeses were those with a particularly pungent flavor, considered “the cheese of the poor”. Pantaleone da Confienza explained why in his “Summa lacticinorum”: “during maturing, a fermentation process takes place which causes these cheeses to develop a particularly pungent taste which makes them very useful to the poor, first of all because, given the strong flavor , they manage to eat only small quantities; secondly, because the dishes that contain these cheeses are so spicy that they do not need other spices or salt ”.
Over the centuries, this cheese has become popular with people of all social classes, but it was only in the early 17th century that some strict religious rules forbade the consumption of cheese on days of “abstinence” and the initial prejudices of doctors and members of the he aristocracy, who considered it an extremely vulgar food, were completely overcome.
Toma Piemontese, a cheese that originates in the mountains and valleys, has gradually spread to the plains due to or, better said, thanks to the shepherds. Their contribution in this regard is testified by a work entitled “The margari of the Province of Turin”. The role of Piedmont in ennobling the name Toma is undoubted.
The territory in which Toma Piemontese DOP can be produced and matured includes the administrative area of the provinces of Cuneo, Turin, Biella, Novara, Verbania, Vercelli and some municipalities of the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, as established in the production disciplinary.