Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on November 21, 2009.
Who has not heard of Parmigiano Reggiano (also known as Parmesan cheese in English), that granular cheese with a sharp and fruity taste, which has contributed so much to the diffusion of Italian cooking around the world?
This product, which carries the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label, has been made according to very strict standards for over… 800 years! Parmigiano is produced in a small geographic area, by around 450 artisanal cheese makers grouped into a consortium, which ensures its quality. Around 16 litres of cow’s milk are required to make 1 kg of cheese.
Aged for at least 12 months in 32 kg cheese wheels, Parmigiano is very easily digestible and is an excellent source of protein, calcium and vitamins. In Italy, people have been aware of its benefits for a long time: it is primarily included in the diet of athletes and elderly people, and is also added in grated form to infant foods. Molière, who was among one of the earliest aficionados of Parmigiano, used to eat this cheese daily for pleasure as well as for inspiration.
In order to preserve its flavour for a long time, it’s better to buy it whole and to grate it when required. This also allows you to ensure its authenticity, by looking for the ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’ marking on its outer rind.
A few of our recipes that feature Parmigiano: