Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan in english) is a dry hard cheese made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow’s milk. This is characterized by a hard rind of golden yellow color and a straw yellow interior with a rich and harmonious flavor. Parmigiani Reggiani are aged for at least two years and the ones labeled extra-aged are aged for three years, the extra-aged four or more years. Their complex taste and decidedly grainy texture is the result of a long seasoning.

Parmigiano Reggiano is called “the King of Cheeses” and the words “Parmigiano Reggiano” printed on the rind mean that the cheese was produced in the areas of Bologna, Mantua, Modena or Parma (from which the name of the cheese acquired its origin). According to Italian law, every cheese produced in these provinces should be labeled Parmigiano Reggiano, and European law classifies the name, as well as the english translation, as a protected designation of origin (PDO quality). Therefore, in the European Union, according to the D.O.C regulations, Parmesan and Parmigiano Reggiano are the same cheese.

File:Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Parmesan

In the United States, Parmesan word is not regulated though. There are cheeses labeled as such might be genuine Parmigiano Reggiano, but it’s more likely for them to be just an imitation. Most American versions are usually cured for a minimum of just 10 months. This fake-look-alike kind of cheese is also produced in Argentina and Australia, but no one compares it to the most important Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy, characterized by a grainy texture that melts in the mouth. As a matter of fact, the D.O.P laws are intended to preserve the integrity of traditional Italian food products, guaranteeing their taste and quality. Also, the D.O.P laws require that Parmigiano Reggiano is produced according to a specific recipe and production methods only within the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena and specific areas in the province of Bologna and Mantua.

Does Parmesan imitation taste the same?

A cheese called “Parmesan” in the United States, which is not a true Parmigiano Reggiano, will always be just an imitation. The cheese might be decent but the quality will never be the same as the real king of cheeses Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s something you can perceive only if you taste both of them, the cheeses might be both nice, but high-quality ingredients and procedures never lie.

 So save your money! And buy just the real one.

If you want to be sure you’re buying and tasting real Parmigiano Reggiano, at Italia Regina we have it in many sizes.

Taste Italian Parmigiano Reggiano: Buy Now!