National Cheese Day came and went too fast this past Monday, June 4th, but we are still not over the hot, melty topic. Here are five facts about the ‘King of Cheeses’: Parmigiano Reggiano…
1. Parmigiano-Reggiano is a part of the Grana family. Parmigiano has the amazing grainy texture that crumbles as you cut into it, making it a great cheese to melt into sauces, pastas and various other dishes. The ‘grana’ family of cheeses come from cow’s milk and are known to be the hard cheeses, resembling large drums in their wheel state and meant to be grated.
2. Parmigiano-Reggiano is cooked, not pressed. The reason that parmigiano has the unmistakable, crumbly texture is the cooking step in the process of making it. Instead of allowing to moisture to stay in the cheese curds before the formation of the wheels, the cheese curds are boiled, expelling all excess water. This is the signature step in creating to parmigiano the world has come to know and love. It is also extremely important that the cow’s milk being used is naturally fed and there are no additives.
3. Its production began by Italian monks. Parmigiano-Reggiano was created by Benedictine and Cistercian monks hundreds of years ago, and they are still accredited with producing some of the best parmigiano the world has ever seen. Since its popularity stretched beyond Italy’s edges, there are many imitators that attempt to capture the same saltiness and indulgence of a truly decadent parmigiano. When buying parmigiano, it is important to purchase something that resembles the real deal – anything made in the boot country is your safest bet.
4. Its name describes its location of origin. “Parmigiano” is the Italian adjective for Parma while “Reggiano” is the Italian adjective for Reggio Emilia. Seems as though the city of Parma, Italy produces some of the world’s favorite salty snacks – prosciutto and Parmigiano.
5. Chef Massimo Bottura saved the economy of Modena with a parmigiano recipe. In 2012, Modena was hit by a devastating earthquake that damaged endless amounts of buildings and properties, many being parmigiano-reggiano producing factories. There were millions of pounds of parmigiano wheels that were unsellable due to the damage that broke them into separate pieces. Michelin star Chef Massimo Bottura could not stand back while people lost their livelihood due to damage product, so he created a risotto dish mimicking traditional cacio e pepe (done normally with pasta), and the world demanded any parmigiano it could get its hand on, saving Modena’s economy.
* While it is not exactly a fact, Parmigiano is absolutely delicious when sliced onto fresh ciabatta with a sweet gala apple slice – something new to try for National Cheese Day, or shall we make it all week?