Sunday, May 19 2024

Italian cuisine is not only appreciated all over the world, it is also the most imitated and counterfeited. Parmigiano Reggiano is the most imitated Italian cheese, especially in the United States.

Here the counterfeit version is called parmesan. Needless to say, the inauthenticity of this proposal is obvious.


It fools no one but those who have never tasted the original.

In America it finds a place on any dish that prides itself on being part of the rich Made in Italy gastronomy.

The differences between Parmigiano Reggiano and parmesan are indeed many.

They range from production to tradition to the impossibility of replicating our territory.

The Parmigiano Reggiano DOP Consortium estimates that the turnover outside the European Union of fake parmesan-from Brazilian parmesao to Argentine reggianito to parmesan spread across all continents-is 2 billion euros for about 200 thousand tons of product (15 times the volume of exported Parmigiano Reggiano DOP).

 

 

Parmigiano Reggiano and parmesan: only with the former is a love affair born.

Americans like Parmesan so much that numerous companies try to imitate it.

Thus parmesan was born.

A name vaguely reminiscent of the cheese produced in Italy, but nothing like the original.

Flavors, colors, traditions, quality of raw materials, and aging times are so different that imitation is impossible.

Parmigiano Reggiano is ultimately the result of an ancient dairy culture that those who imitate it do not possess.

One of the most obvious differences lies in the flavor, which in the original takes on different declinations depending on the months of aging.

If Parmigiano Reggiano when young is sweeter, as it ages it acquires a salty note, without ever losing a pleasant hint of spiciness.

Impossible then to replicate a taste that depends on the different pastures of the farms and the care with which the cheesemakers produce a cheese with a glorious past.

 

Each sliver of Parmigiano Reggiano is a story, a tradition jealously handed down over time.

The ingredients – raw milk, salt, rennet – remained the same as those the monks had used when they created the first wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, a cheese that was meant to last and be easily transported.

Over time, its success led to the development of the counterfeit market.

Thus in 1934 the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium was created to protect it.

Parmesan, on the contrary, is not under the control of any Consortium and does not meet any specifications,

Each producer tries to imitate Parmigiano Reggiano in his own way.

Its lack of color, its lack of flavor, its smooth texture, its use of thickeners, artificial colors and preservatives make it a cheese that has nothing to do with the original.

An imitation that deceives those who buy it who often believe they are tasting the well-known Italian cheese.

 

Parmigiano Reggiano, a journey into the way it is produced

Parmigiano Reggiano is a PDO, a protected designation of origin, protected by a consortium that opposes Italian Sounding by promoting product culture, informing foreign consumers of the reasons why it is worth having authentic cheese on the table, which is distinguished by quality and complete traceability of the supply chain.

The production area includes the provinces of Reggio Emilia, Modena, Parma, and Bologna to the left of the Reno River and Mantua to the right of the Po River. Precisely to defend it from imitations, it has a very strict specification.

Cows destined for its production can only eat forage harvested in the area.

 

How Parmigiano Reggiano is produced

Only cow’s milk, salt and rennet are used to produce it, following a codified procedure.

Skim milk from the evening milking is used, which is obtained by naturally allowing the fat part intended for butter production to surface.

This is then added to the whole milk from the morning milking. The milk mixture is poured into typical inverted bell-shaped copper cauldrons.

Calf rennet and whey graft (a natural culture of milk enzymes obtained from the spontaneous acidification of residual whey from the previous day’s processing) is added to the resulting forms.

After starting coagulation, the curd is reduced to small granules by the cheesemaker.

It is subsequently cooked slowly until it reaches 55 degrees.

The granules settle to the bottom of the boiler, forming a compact mass. The extracted mixture is cut into two parts, wrapped in linen cloths and placed in a fascera from which it takes its typical shape.

 

The baptism of Parmigiano Reggiano.

After a few days that baptism takes place that makes each shape unique. Branding gives an identifying number.

At this point the wheels are first dipped into brine for osmosis salting and then left to mature.

Curing, on long wooden boards, can last 12, 24, 30 or 36 months, reaching up to 40 months.

To ensure that everything is proceeding properly, at the end of the first year with a hammer the cheesemaker auscultates the resting of the cheese.

This is called expertisation.

If the examination is passed, a second branding is carried out.

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