Parmesan, the treasure of Parma
If you ever find yourself near the picturesque town of Parma, in Northern Italy, don’t forget to visit one of the many scattered salumeria, the picturesque Italian Delicatessens that sell all the traditional savoury delicacies of the local cuisine, such as salami, prosciutto, sausages and of course, parmesan cheese, the distinctive yellow cheese with an intense taste that has won over the entire world.
Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano, as it is officially called, has a history imprinted on its name, as it is derived from the regions where it is exclusively produced (Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantova). It was first produced by monks who settled in these regions during the Middle Ages, and its production significantly increased during the period of the industrial revolution.
Despite its long history, its recipe remains unchanged to this day. Specifically, it is made by combining low-fat and full-fat milk from local cows, that feed exclusively on grass and hay, and it is left to mature for at least 12 months in special wheels, each weighing around 40 kilos. After one year has passed, and after it has been tested by a special board, the seal of the authentic Parmigiano Reggiano is placed on each wheel, and it can then either be distributed to the market, or left to mature a bit longer, so that its flavour can be further enhanced.
Parmesan’s intense and distinctive taste, which sets it apart from other cheeses, comes from its long maturity time and the salt, which is the only additive, its hard texture that easily crumbles and its golden colour, which changes depending on the animals’ nutrition.
Parmesan is the ideal cheese to grate over a hot pasta dish or a steaming risotto, but you can also add it to a fresh green salad. You can also include it in a cheese & meat platter, topping it off with a little balsamic vinegar cream. You will be amazed by the result!