Home ยป Parmigiano Reggiano: The Best Cheese in the World

Parmigiano Reggiano: The Best Cheese in the World

Parmigiano Reggiano, often referred to as the “King of Cheeses“, is a beloved Italian culinary treasure. Rated by TasteAtlas as the best cheese in the world, this hard, granular cheese has a rich history, an unmistakable flavor, and is deeply woven into Italy’s culinary tradition. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of Parmigiano Reggiano, exploring its origins, where to savor it in Italy, and even some delectable dishes you can prepare using this exceptional cheese.

The Story Behind Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano has its roots in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, particularly in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, and parts of Modena and Bologna. Its production dates back over 900 years, with some claiming it to be the world’s oldest cheese. Its roots can be traced back to the Middle Ages, a time when the Benedictine and Cistercian monks undertook the admirable task of reclaiming the wetlands of the Po Valley. It was during this period that they embarked on crafting this highly esteemed cheese, which would eventually bear the name of its city of origin, Parma. Artisans initially created this cheese as a way to preserve surplus milk during the abundant seasons. Its long shelf life and concentrated flavor soon made it a staple in Italian households and a symbol of quality.

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Parmigiano Reggiano

The Artisanal Creation of Parmigiano Reggiano

Crafting Parmigiano Reggiano is an artisanal process steeped in tradition. It all begins with the collection of high-quality cow’s milk, which is then expertly combined with rennet, a natural enzyme derived from calf stomachs, to initiate the curdling process. This meticulous process has remained largely unchanged since the Middle Ages, a testament to the dedication to preserving the cheese’s authenticity and flavor. Parmigiano Reggiano comes in several varieties, including different aging options. The most common are the “Classico“, aged for about 24 months, and the “Stravecchio“, aged for over 36 months, both offering unique flavors and textures.

๐Ÿ˜ƒ FUN FACT: Did you know that authentic Parmigiano Reggiano can only be produced in its designated region using traditional methods? It’s a protected designation of origin (PDO) cheese, meaning it must adhere to strict guidelines to bear the name.

Where to Experience Parmigiano Reggiano

To truly appreciate this Italian jewel, consider visiting the cheese dairies or “caseifici”, in the Emilia-Romagna region. Here, you can witness the meticulous process of cheese production, from milking the cows to aging the cheese wheels. Some dairies even offer guided tours and tastings, allowing you to savor different aged varieties.

Parmigiano vs Parmesan

While both Parmigiano Reggiano and Parmesan share similarities, they are not the same cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano is the authentic Italian cheese produced in specific regions of Italy, adhering to strict regulations. Its production follows centuries-old traditions, resulting in its renowned quality and taste. On the other hand, Parmesan is a broader term used to describe similar cheeses produced outside Italy, often with variations in flavor and texture. When seeking the finest, most genuine experience, Parmigiano Reggiano is the unrivaled choice. However, Parmesan cheeses can be excellent alternatives, especially for those seeking similar taste profiles in more budget-friendly options.

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How To Use it in Italian Cuisine

Parmigiano Reggiano isn’t just a cheese; it’s a cornerstone of Italian cuisine. You’ll find it grated generously over many pasta dishes or sprinkled on top of a fresh Caprese salad. Its nutty, savory flavor enhances risottos, soups, and even omelets. Try it in a traditional Parmigiana di Melanzane (eggplant Parmesan) for an authentic taste of Italy.

Parmigiano Reggiano: Key Takeaways

  • Taste the Tradition: Try it in the Emilia-Romagna region, where it’s at its finest.
  • Versatile Ingredient: Experiment with this cheese in various Italian recipes for an added layer of flavor.
  • Age Matters: The cheese’s age greatly influences its taste, from the milder 18-month variety to the intensely flavored 36-month version.
  • PDO Assurance: Look for the PDO label to ensure you’re getting an authentic product that meets the highest quality standards.
  • Cheese with a Story: Appreciate the rich history and craftsmanship that go into every wheel of this delicious cheese.

In conclusion, Parmigiano Reggiano is a piece of Italian heritage. Its unique taste, centuries-old tradition, and versatility in Italian cuisine make it a must-try for any food enthusiast. So, when you visit Italy, don’t miss the chance to savor this exceptional cheese at its source, and bring home a slice of Italy’s culinary excellence.

Per un’esperienza culinaria autentica, non cโ€™รจ niente di meglio che un buon Parmigiano Reggiano!

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