Pecorino Romano cheese – fantastic hiking food

Arguably,  the Roman Legions were the world’s first thoroughly professional army.

The Roman legionaries were not warriors.

They were soldiers.

Individually they were not great fighters.

As a unit?  That is a different tale.

Their organization, discipline, tactics, and training made them a force that stood for centuries.

And part of this training and tactics? Marching anywhere from 18-21 modern MPD with sixty+ lbs of gear in ~6 of our hours. And then constructing fortifications at the end of this march.

From Trajan's Column in Rome. I spent hours looking at this structure when I was there. Simply fascinating.
From Trajan’s Column in Rome. I spent hours looking at this structure when I was there. Simply fascinating.

And how were they powered on these marches?

A large variety of food. Some of which still sound scrumptious to our modern palates. After all, they are the ancestors of modern-day Italians (and their American descendants). 😉

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Bread made from a recipe found in Pompeii. (From Pinterest)

And among this variety of food taken was a hard, salty, and yummy cheese. A type of cheese that is nearly identical two-thousand years later: Pecorino Romano.

Pecorino_romano_on_board_cropped
from Wiki Commons

It packs well, is calorie-dense, digests easily, and in the hot weather, it still keeps quite efficient. The higher sodium content makes the food a tasty treat when physically exerting yourself. Perfect for, say, oh, hiking in the Utah canyons in late spring!

Pecorino Romano was excellent food for long-term marches for some possible distant ancestors of mine. And the same properties also make it work well for much less burdened modern time hikers.

As my hiking continues to evolve, I crave “real” food more and more. Beef jerky, tortillas, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, and, yes, cheese.  Energy bars? I’ll eat them sure… esp when free. But if I want a so-called energy bar for a quick nosh, my old standby of Snickers Bars still seems to work for less money! And the real food mentioned earlier tastes better.

And this excellent cheese works so well for my hiking. I can pick up a hunk at the local Costco that lasts for weeks in the fridge. And it is even made with sheep’s milk, at $7 or so a pound, not that inexpensive. But with 110 calories per ounce, not bad at all, really.  And considering the price of  Clif Bars (even if bought in bulk) and their taste, to get the same amount of calories as a pound of this cheese,  the price does not seem so bad after all. ( Did I mention I prefer Snicker Bars as my so-called energy bar of choice? 😉 )

So consider packing some Pecorino Romano-style cheese [1] for your backpacking trips.

Long-lasting, calorie-dense, and yummy.

Good enough for a highly trained professional soldier on the march.

Good enough for you.

And indeed, good enough for me!

(And consider packing it in old-school cheesecloth. ) 

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from Zazzle

[1] Technically speaking, the cheese is only Pecorino Romano if it is made in very specific regions of Italy. But I am not a foodie. I just like good food and would rather not be pedantic. Just so legions of foodies (see what I did there?) don’t bombard me; we’ll just call it Pecorino Romano style for this article’s purpose.

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Andrea
6 years ago

Do you grate it before you go? Take a grater? Or just bite it off in hunks?

grannyhiker
grannyhiker
6 years ago

My, that looks good! A hard cheese like that will keep for a long time without refrigeration. Keep it wrapped in cheesecloth (to keep the surface dry) and trim off any mold that forms (unless you really like blue cheese). My mother would keep blocks of sharp cheddar cheese for 2-3 months at room temperature.(back in the days before home air conditioning). The peccorino is far better, IMHO! I just read that right now there’s a worldwide glut of cheese, so it might be a good time to stock up for the summer, On the other hand, I never did… Read more »

Karo
Karo
6 years ago

I was looking for cheese that would be suitable for higher temps. I tried Grana Padano once in not so warm conditions and it didn’t perform too good. I will give Pecorino a go – would be happy to have some proper cheese while hiking 🙂

Thanks for the tip!

Jarrett
6 years ago

Hard cheeses and cured meats are my go to lunch. It’s so tasty and you can slice everything on the go.

Patrickj
Patrickj
6 years ago

I’ve done fine with packaged chunks of aged sharp cheddar on the trail in all but the hottest weather.

scott
6 years ago

I wish there was a way to see all of Trajan’s Column up close. I was frustrated being stuck on the ground when there were so many carvings up high.

Good idea with the Pecorino, when it is cooler, I will take individually wrapped cheddar cheese sticks, but they don’t do well as it warms up.

scott
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

Very cool, thanks for the link

LAZERDEATHKILL
LAZERDEATHKILL
6 years ago

I tried this out this past weekend in Robbers Roost. The cheese is too smelly for me and I got it at Harmons where it was expensive. Did appear to handle the desert temps well though.

Bill
Bill
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

Anchovies are Umami bombs. You can add Anchovy paste to just about everything savory.

Bill
Bill
6 years ago

They had some down at the local County Market. It’s waaay salty, but it’s good. It wants to be chunks or grated, it doesn’t want to be sliced. Do I need to pair it with a wine?

Jeremy Werlin
Jeremy Werlin
5 years ago

This article is totally bogus. Asiago is the way to go.