We all heartily agree with Clifton Fadiman that cheese is called “milk’s leap to immortality” A bit of cheese as garnish, topping or dessert not only enlivens the taste but often adds those necessary aminos which round out the protein content to make a dish nutritionally satisfying as well – taken from JOY OF COOKING by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker.
A bowl of pasta is just not the same without a dash of parmigiano, or parmesan cheese as we know it anywhere else outside of Italy. This is what could make the difference between a great or a mediocre meal. But what exactly is the difference between parmesan cheese and another cheese, say for example, ementhaler cheese or gruyere cheese that we make lovely fondues out of, or perhaps mozzarella cheese that we use for pizza, or feta in our Greek salad?
There is an art to making different types of cheese, and there are almost as many different varieties of cheese as there is of wine. Parmesan cheese is hard, sharp and dry and is made in Italy from cow’s milk that has been skimmed. Parmesan cheese is cooked, but not pressed.
Parmesan cheese is the colour of straw and it is particularly rich in flavor. This cheese is produced all over the world but the best quality of which there is no comparison, comes from the Parmigiano –Reggiano district of Italy.
The cheese is often aged between twelve to sixteen months, but the best is stravecchio, which simple means that is has matured over a three year period and stravecchiones, which is aged four years. Parmigiano means that the cheese comes from the region of Parma and Reggio which are both situated in Emilia Romagna, Italy.
Another kind of cheese that looks similar to parmigiano, is grana padano. This cheese looks similar but the taste is a lot sweeter to the Parmigiano . Produced in more than one region in Northern Italy grana padano comes from the region along the River Po. Within Europe, parmesan cheese is protected, which means that only cheese manufactured in a specific way in a particular area of Italy can be labeled as parmesan cheese, and outside of Europe there are so many generic kinds of cheese that go by the name of parmesan cheese.
But nothing can quite beat the real thing.