Opera, shoes, cars — the Italian style is unsurpassable. But Italy’s biggest claim to fame may be the venerable Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Although stateside, “Parmesan” is relegated to everything from potato chips to fast food, in Italy, it is a highly prized food that is a vital part of the culture and the Italian livelihood.
Parmesan cheese, as it’s called when produced domestically, was born from Parmigiano Reggiano. Like Champagne (which must be produced in the Champagne region of France to be called such), cheese labeled Parmigiano Reggiano must be made in the Italian provinces of Parma, Reggio, Emilia, Modena, Mantua and parts of Bologna under very specific rules—only from morning and evening milk from cows fed special grasses.
Once you have tasted true Parmigiano Reggiano, you’ll be hooked. To know if you have the real thing, look for the pin dot label on the rind that says Parmigiano Reggiano.
For more on how Parmigiano Reggiano is made, see: