I don’t know about you, but my childhood memory of parmesan cheese is still very vivid. It was a Thursday, and it came pre-grated in a green cardboard cylinder. It sat in the fridge for a couple of weeks until my mom finally opened it and made spaghetti. It’s okay, admit it. You first parmesan cheese encounter was something like that, too. But I, and America, have grown up. No longer are gourmet ships restricted to the biggest cities while Italian restaurants now serve other regional dishes and not just the classics. Since we are used to tasting different things, new things, and making discriminating choices, it is time that we take a closer look at Parmigiano Reggiano, a kind of cheese that is light years ahead of parmesan cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a medium-fat cheese that is made from partly skimmed and unpasteurized cow’s milk. It was initially made in a zone limited to the provinces of Parma, Reggio-Emilia and Modena, among other parts of the provinces of Mantua and Bolognia in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. The Parmigiano Reggiano is naturally prepared, and no chemical preservatives or artificial additives are used. The Parmigiano Reggiano, like fine wine, is a living product, capable of maturing and evolving in flavor.
The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a time-tested cheese, although complex, it is still perfect served on its own. Simply break off small chunks, make paper thin silvers or cut it into bite size slices, and you are ready to serve! But since everyone just loves the Parmigiano Reggiano, you can also pair it with a never ending list of other flavors that will highlight its subtle bite and sweetness.
An essential part of any Italian athlete’s post-workout diet, the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is also a great source of protein, calcium and phosphorous, and it contains other vitamins and minerals such as B12, copper and zinc. But the most interesting thing about the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is the traditional way of opening, more appropriately called “cracking”, its huge wheel.
In case you have never seen a Parmigiano Reggiano cut open and wonders how these cutters were able to cut into such ragged and craggy wedges, well you will be surprised if I tell you that those wedges are there on purpose. Some people consider breaking into a 24-month old wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano like “cracking open happiness”. Why? Because traditionally, opening the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wheel makes use of a set of official tools – five different types of knives – in order to make sure that the internal crystalline structure and crumbly texture is preserved and left intact.
Carefully crafted by artisans, each wheel of the Parmigiano Reggiano is an expression of the cheese maker’s sensibilities and sound judgment – the maker decides every stage of production with his fingertips. More than just a pasta ingredient, the Parmigiano Reggiano is a product of an intimate endeavor. So don’t stop grating.Bookmark & Share