Parmigiano Reggiano is one of our all-time favourites here at The Chef & The Dish! This hand made cheese has a long, rich history with traditions still being kept and practiced to this day. If you LOVE the "King of Cheese" as much as we do, you NEED to check out our Limited Time Parmigiano Reggiano Cooking Class!
1. All Hail the King!
Production of Parmigiano Reggiano began in the medieval times by Benedictine monks in Italy. In this pre-refrigeration era, they were able to create a way of preserving fresh milk with a method of aging large wheels of hard cheese that had a much longer shelf life. This group pioneered the processes and production of what would become one of the most iconic products in the world centuries later.
2. A long name but simple meaning
The name "Parmigiano Reggiano" reflects where the cheese was first produced; land between Parma and Reggio Emilia, two neighbouring towns in the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. ”Parmigiano means ‘of and from Parma,’ while Reggiano means ‘of or from Reggio.’ Today Parmigiano Reggiano can only be produced in the area of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of Mantua and Bologna.
3. A Tough Test
After 12 months of aging (the minimum of time it can be aged for) an expert called a Battitore evaluates each wheel of cheese. With a specially designed hammer, the Battitore taps each wheel and listens for specific tones that indicate whether the cheese has aged properly or not. Each wheel that passes inspection gets fire branded with a government regulated 'Consorzio Tutela Parmigiano Reggiano' certification mark on the rind. This very important marking prevents counterfeiting.
4. Parmigiano Reggiano is made with only three Ingredients
Cows milk, salt and renet. Done.
5. Real Parmigiano Reggiano won't be found in a pantry aisle
As a result of World War II, many products were no longer imported to the United States including this beloved cheese. Imitations started to pop up and during the 1950’s, the peak of convenience foods, grated and dehydrated cheese that could be stored at room temperature was placed in shaker cans became very popular. Due to the addition of preservatives and higher sodium content, this canned cheese has a much different flavour than preservative free, high quality Parmigiano Reggiano.
6. Always Buy the Wedge
Buying pre-grated Parmigiano Reggiano offers no guarantee your product is real or doesn't contain fillers. Those fillers effect the flavour of your cheese. Always buy the wedge and look for the markings to ensure your cheese is authentic.
7. It's Lactose Free!
For those who are lactose intolerant most cheeses are out of the question but Parmigiano Reggiano is 100% lactose free! Due to the way the cheese is made, the lactose is converted into lactic-acid and the rapid growth of lactic bacteria helps metabolizes all of the galactose (a component of lactose) which is eliminated as well. So, if you’ve been avoiding adding cheese to your pasta, fear no more! (Just make sure it’s authentic Parmigiano Reggiano)
8. Thomas Jefferson was very fond of this special cheese
One of America’s founding fathers showed a particular interest in this delicious, hard grating cheese. During his post in France as the U.S. Ambassador in 1786, Jefferson spent time researching technologies that could be potentially brought back to the States. One was a “steam-powered grater” that could grate a quarter of a wheel in just minutes.
9. It's okay to cry over spilled milk...if it was meant for making cheese!
It takes around 520 litres (roughly 114 gallons) of milk to produce ONE (just one!), wheel of Parmigiano. Do the math - that’s a heck of a lot of milk!
10. Skip the Protein Bar & Have a Piece of Parmigiano Reggiano
Just one-ounce of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese provides 20% of your daily protein intake! An actual tradition for Italian athletes prior to competition is to eat a healthy bowl of pasta topped with a substantial sprinkling of delicious Parmigiano Reggiano. This meal provides a balance of carbs, protein and fat giving them a boost and ready to perform!
Parmigiano Reggiano Cooking Class
Video conference Chef Paola Martinenghi into your home. She'll teach you how to cook a three course meal, incorporating the King of Cheese into every dish. This incredible class is only offered for a Limited Time so don't miss out!