Cheese Watcher


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The gentleman lighting a cigarette watching the cheese shop is Luigi. My husband and I met him in Livorno Italy at a little enoteca we stopped at for a bite to eat. Somehow with my broken Italian and his broken English we had a delightful conversation.

About Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

At 12 months, the Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano inspects every wheel. The cheese is tested by a master grader who taps each wheel to identify undesirable cracks and voids within the wheel. Wheels that pass the test are then heat branded on the rind with the Consorzio's logo. Those that do not pass the test used to have their rinds marked with lines or crosses all the way around to inform consumers that they are not getting top-quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese; more recent practices simply have these lesser rinds stripped of all markings.

Traditionally, cows that produce Parmigiano Reggiano cheese have to be fed only on grass or hay, producing grass fed milk. Only natural whey culture is allowed as a starter, together with calf rennet.

The only additive allowed is salt, which the cheese absorbs while being submerged for 20 days in brine tanks saturated to near total salinity with Mediterranean sea salt. The product is aged an average of two years. The cheese is produced daily, and it can show a natural variability. True Parmigiano Reggiano cheese has a sharp, complex fruity/nutty taste with a strong savory flavor and a slightly gritty texture. Inferior versions can impart a bitter taste.

The average Parmigiano Reggiano wheel is about 18–24 cm (7.1–9.4 in) high, 40–45 cm (16–18 in) in diameter, and weighs 38 kg (84 lb). Source: Wikipedia


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