Parmigiano-Reggiano, is one of the most famous and widely-used Italian cheeses in the world. This hard, granular cheese is a staple in many Italian dishes and has a rich history that spans several centuries.
Origins and Early History:
The origins of Parmesan Reggiano can be traced back to the Middle Ages when Benedictine monks from the region of Parma, Italy, began making cheese as a way to preserve surplus milk. The monks discovered that the combination of high-quality milk from their grass-fed cows, the unique climate and soil conditions of the region, and the traditional production methods produced a cheese that was unmatched in quality and taste. They called it “caseus parmensis” or “cheese of Parma.”
By the 13th century, Parmesan Reggiano had become an important trade commodity in northern Italy, and it was highly prized for its long shelf life and rich, nutty flavor. The cheese was even used as a form of currency, and it was often exchanged for other goods and services.
Renaissance and Modern History:
During the Renaissance period, Parmesan Reggiano became even more popular among the wealthy nobility of Italy. It was often served at lavish banquets and was used in a variety of recipes. The cheese was also exported to other parts of Europe and became known as the “King of Cheeses.”
Today, Parmesan Reggiano is still made using the same traditional methods that have been passed down through generations of Italian cheese makers. The cheese must be produced within the Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantua, or Bologna regions of Italy and must be made with milk from cows that have been raised in those regions.
The production process is highly regulated, and the cheese is made using only natural ingredients, including milk, rennet, and salt. The cheese is aged for a minimum of 12 months, although some varieties are aged for as long as 36 months.
The Final Word:
Parmesan Reggiano cheese is a true masterpiece of Italian culinary art, and its history and tradition are as rich and fascinating as its taste. It’s no wonder that this cheese has become such a popular and beloved ingredient in cuisines all over the world. Whether grated over pasta, melted into risotto, or enjoyed on its own, Parmesan Reggiano is truly one of the great culinary treasures of Italy.
(Written By Michael Sundburg)