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Parmigiano-Reggiano: Italy's 'practically perfect' food (bbc.com)
154 points by MiriamWeiner 49 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 112 comments



>Few of these fans would recognise much of what’s sold today. The white flakes many of us grew up shaking from a green can aren’t parmesan, not even close. Within the EU, both Parmigiano-Reggiano and its anglicised version, “parmesan”, are legally registered terms protected by the PDO – protected designation of origin – label since 1996. But in the US, the law protects only the name “Parmigiano-Reggiano” (In the EU, those green Kraft canisters are labelled “Parmasello”).

This should be everyone's takeaway point from the article. The generic term "parmesan" means nothing. Don't buy it unless it actually says "Parmigiano-Reggiano", as that guarantees at least some minimum level of quality (fraud notwithstanding).

I'd also suggest that anyone with a Costco membership should grab a wedge from there. You'll pay $18 or so for a chunk of quality stuff that will last you about six months. It's very, very resilient to mold.


Not everyone needs Parmagiano-Reggiano. You can buy parmesan to put on your microwaved pasta and it will be Very Good(TM). No need to waste good quality DOP on that.

As with all cheeses, "parmesan" labeled cheeses will also vary in quality. Go for what your wallet + taste buds tell you to pick. There really are good quality "parmesan" brands out there. Maybe not the cheapest stuff in your grocery store, but as long as you know what you're getting...

I have a philosophy: if it's made from real milk and by craftspeople who respect the product and the customer, then DOP is not necessarily the only marker of quality cheese.

edit: Here's an anecdote: A few months ago I travelled to the USA (Detroit) for a friend's wedding. Most of the food after the ceremony was from local producers, either acquaintances or good friends of the couple. My friend (who is also not from the USA) told me to try some of the charcuterie and cheeses on one of the tables and to tell him what I thought (we're both from Spain). The parmesan on that table was just perfect. Obviously not the real deal, but you could see the texture: the crumbly-ness (is that a word?), the little crystals cracking in your mouth, the aroma... I would not have guessed it was local produce. The same goes for the cured meats (some chorizo, and some cured ham, with a profile somewhere in between serrano and prosciutto). Really good stuff, and definitely not DOP.


> Not everyone needs Parmagiano-Reggiano. You can buy parmesan to put on your microwaved pasta and it will be Very Good(TM).

I was served something marked as 'Gruyere' in the US, and it was a bright white, liquid-paste-like substance which oozed out of a foil triangle, basically a generic processed cheese product unrelated to Gruyere. So if you buy something marked as Parmesan, presumably, it could be almost anything with a dairy base. There must be good products, but the name doesn't seem to be a guarantee of anything.


I've never seen parmesan packaged in anything that wasn't transparent or completely clear. If you buy a block of parmesan that doesn't seem to actually be parmesan its probably your fault.

Some cheeses like the one you mentioned, I can see a need for caution, but I can generally look at a block of parmesan and tell whether its going to be great or mediocre.


It doesn't matter if the package is transparent or not. If the name is not Parmigiano-Reggiano it's something else. No doubt it's edible, but not the cheese you want if you went out to buy Parmigiano-Reggiano.


I'm not sure how your comment is relevant. Brakenshire suggested that you could buy a type of cheese that's marketed as a specific kind of cheese, only to find that it is completely different in consistency, texture, and flavor. I'm saying that's not likely with parmesan cheese due to the fact that you can see it. I've had Parmigiano-Reggiano and a multitude of other less authentic Parmesan cheeses, 100% of the time if it has looked similar and been marked as parmesan it tasted like it was the same general type of cheese as Parmigiano-Reggiano, even if it wasn't as good. He was describing an experience where the cheese tastes nothing like what its supposed to because it is something completely different.

The packaging is relevant because its impossible to make the same mistake with Parmesan cheese because if it looks like a block of parmesan cheese its going to taste very similar to parmigiano-reggiano.

I don't recall ever saying that its the same thing as officially certified and/or marketed parmigiano-reggiano. Perhaps you should read comments and the comments they were responding to more closely.


That might be all nice and true, but then why the desperate need from manufacturers to appear as close as original as possible to trick and lure some unknowing shoppers?

If you make a copy, and you are proud how good it is, make it clear and add what makes yours so special. The discussion it seems is more about cheaper knock-offs that many people don't distinguish from original because they don't know exact words in names and other signs to look for. These often come with subpar ingredients and additives/conservants as noted in the article - which is something many people are concerned about, even if taste is OK.

EU might be a pile of crap in many aspects, but protection of local, traditional products is definitely something I support and it seems to be done well.


Parmesan is a generic word in America. It's a word to describe a family of hard cheeses, usually ground by Kraft.

Im not sure if every times a brand describes a cheese as Parmesan they are trying to be misleading or trick people into thinking its from Europe, they are just describing it in a way that aligns with Americans expectations.


> Im not sure if every times a brand describes a cheese as Parmesan they are trying to be misleading or trick people into thinking its from Europe

For sure not everybody but sure some do and for sure if you can make people think "this looks like the original stuff but at a nice price" that is a boon for your sales. You do not need to lie for this, often just having a not crappy design for the packaging is enough, since people often (and rightly so) don't really know what they want.

As an Italian we can get a bit emotional on this (and I truly think that some imitations are truly worthy of their own respect) but there is value in distinguishing a DOP brand, eg it make manufacturing much more accountable for the quality of their products.


So I went to the grocery store yesterday for a little taste test. Just a small little market. Decided to do it in two steps. First find the best imitation, then I would compare it to the real thing.

Interestingly enough, the only Parmigiano-Reggiano on the shelf was BelGioioso. I went "oh shit, they were right, there is some tomfoolerly in advertising." Then I noticed they actually were importing it from Italy. They had a block of Parmigiano Reggiano right next to a block of Parmesan from WI.

Once I looked at the two though, I dont think anyone could make the claim they were trying to be tricky. The Parmesan was labeled Parmesan. The import was all fancy, had IMPORTED stamped all over it, they were using it as a selling point to differentiate between the two.

As for the results, the BelGioioso Parmesan was easily the worst of the three. BUT, it was also half the price of the Satori Montamore Cheddar/Parmesan and Satori Sarvecchio Parmesan.


> You can buy parmesan to put on your microwaved pasta

Jesus Christ you almost gave me a heart attack


As a European this whole American microwaved cheese on noodles thing was always a prime cliché example of classless American quisine (I think for Americans too).

Boy am I happy to have gotten over that snobbishness! Apart from many American dishes that blew me away macaroni and cheese wasn’t one of it (since it’s not served in US diners ... i think). So I tried it out at home (leftover noodles and some cheese) and I have to say: it was really good. The melt is perfect. I don’t know of any technique capable of merging noodles with melted cheese in such an immersive way other than with a microwave (radiating oven heat will have a different effect).


You probably haven't tried Indian food served as an all you can eat buffet in the USA. Those places are legendary for their exquisite taste palette.


Sometimes I buy the yellow cheese slices at the grocery store without reading what kind they are.


I take coffee from our fancy machine and dump ice cubes in to cool it down.


That's close to the japanese iced coffee method: make the coffee twice as strong as you want it, then pour fresh coffee straight onto equal volume of ice cubes (you can drip pour-overs straight in ice). Super easy and makes for pretty good iced coffee in summer.


That's what I do to make iced coffee - strong aeropress directly onto a glass full of ice. Add a splash of milk if you like, and it's heavenly.


Except I make it regular strength and water it down because fancy coffee tastes too much like coffee.


Or a Spanish "cafe con hielo": An espresso served alongside a tumbler of ice cubes.


>Not everyone needs Parmagiano-Reggiano. You can buy parmesan to put on your microwaved pasta and it will be Very Good(TM).

The above phrase would be considered akin to hate speech in Italy.


[flagged]


Do you have a problem with people who think that?


No. But in general your gut has a significant problem with microwave food if you eat it day in, day out.


Sure if you're microwaving pasta, not sure why you would do that, you don't need Parmigiano-Reggiano, but why subject yourself to poor quality food.


The PDO may not work as expected in the face of rising popularity of a product. This could be the case for Parmigiano-Reggiano. A recent #notonmypasta campaign [1] outlined abuses on milk-producing cows (e.g. 0 pasture days) in the PDO region. Cheese produced by potentially sickly animals can't ever be considered the pinnacle of quality. The BBC article attributing nearly-magic properties to the cheese just makes things worse. The article almost reads as an advertorial/counter-campaign.

I'd personally go for a Parmesan knockoff from a farm certified for animal welfare, rather than the PDO with shadows over the quality of the milk used.

[1]: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/news/2017/11/the-cruel-truth-behind-...


There are good American variants. "Parmigiano-Reggiano" may be protected, but it doesnt mean that the only good cheese is coming from Italy.

https://www.belgioioso.com/Products/American-Grana

https://www.belgioioso.com/Products/Parmesan

Check out section H - https://1sskha48hhbhl0oc61bhsagh-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-...

https://wccc.myentries.org/contest/results/?event=61&eventCl...

They won first place in America and the World this year. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th came from Wisconsin at world. 5th and 7th from Italy. And there are 6 different companies from Wisconsin represented on that list. NY, SD, IA, and MD are the only other states represented.


Come on. That last is obviously a "championship" which is completely biased towards American style and palate, and probably only has a very few non-American cheeses in the competition. It is run by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, and might not even have many submissions that aren't from Wisconsin. They only list styles and winners but it is transparently biased/primarily local. Similar comments can be made for the American Cheese Society link.


They may or may not be impartial, but is it really any different than the EU PDO? If Italy can claim the flavor is special to the region, Wisconsin should be able to make similar claims of their superiority.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/how-good-has-u...


PDO doesn't claim "this is better", just "this is made in a consistent fashion from consistent ingredients and will have a consistent taste".

Wisconsin can most certainly get a protected origin mark, if they like.

It's like McDonalds vs. a diner. You know exactly what you get when you got to a McDonalds; it will be essentially identical all over the country. Going to a diner may be amazing, or it may be shit.


Very different. I've tried cooking with Bel Gioso's products a few times. If their packaged mozzarella is anything like their parmesan, i'd pass.


"When we hold a World Championship for a particular sport, we invite teams from other countries to play, as well."

    John Cleese talking about the differences between the UK and USA


I'm Italian living in California, I looked far and wide for reasonable alternatives and wished to find good stuff here. You can give yourself all the medals you want but it won't make you the real deal, the stuff you mentioned might be passable grated but it's not even remotely the same when consumed by itself.


I’m originally American living in Europe at the moment (where regional food trademark labels are honored) and I have to say — real Parmesan is utterly pure magic ...


Have you tried the actual cheeses he mentions?


Yes, but I didn't need to. American producer aren't up to snuff at the moment. Belgioioso is an italian brand BTW, I used to sell it in my family's store back in Italy, we used to own a high end deli and know quite a bit about Italian food and specifically about cheese, at 15 I was the "product manager" for parent's store. Ask me anything :)


BelGioioso is absolutely an American brand [1]. It was admittedly founded by an Italian immigrant and run by "Italian master cheesemakers", but all cheese production happens in Wisconsin, using American dairy and workers.

[1] https://www.belgioioso.com/Secret


I call it "Italian" because they are culturally and technically very similar to the companies that make cheese in Italy, and an offshoot of Auricchio (they have been importing cheese in the US for a long time before starting that US company). They make more or less the same medium quality products Auricchio is known for in this country, I'm not really a fan.


There are some very good cheese makers in the States (e.g. Prairie Fruit). But of course they have enough decency not to call their stuff "Parmesan" when it isn't.


How does it being sold in Italy make it an Italian brand? Do they make some of it there? Or is it an unrelated company.


It was started by a member of the Auricchio family - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auricchio


> There are good American variants. "Parmigiano-Reggiano" may be protected, but it doesnt mean that the only good cheese is coming from Italy.

Cool. How about they stand on their own feet and you folks stop lying about and mislabeling products?

It's also quite obvious that Italy is not the only place good cheese comes from. The UK and France at the very least are in the running.


Depending where you live, there are a lot of small-time artisan cheese makers who make great product. For example, Gunn's Hill in southwestern Ontario— their stuff is more like a mild swiss than a sharper parmesan, but it's beautifully flexible for sandwiches, sauces, snacking, whatever. And the cheese counters at our local farmers market have a number of options like this.

https://www.gunnshillcheese.ca/artisan-cheese/our-artisan-ch...


WTF? The official website photo of "American Grana" shows a wheel with holes. This is not Swiss cheese: it's a major defect that is evidence of bad fermentation.

Apart from the demented indications (the "Parmesan" is aged far too little to allow grating) and recipes (e.g. Aglio e Olio spaghetti, the most inappropriate place to put grated cheese of any type on), these wheels are seriously tiny, presumably for industrial production reasons.

It would be nice to find details about their production process, especially what they do with cream.


I've bought BelGioioso a few times out of necessity (in places with no good supermarkets around that carry real parmesan). It's nothing like parmesan. It's not a bad cheese, just not parmesan. No signs of crystals anywhere, no depth of flavour. Their version of asiago is better, though still not great.


Nobody in Italy even cares about those contests (for one, they'd consider "ACS" a contradiction terms).


As someone who buys and enjoys the Costco Parmiagiano-Reggiano (PR) and who has eaten both it and the green can version in the last couple of weeks, I think it's a shame that people would be misled into thinking the green can version is anything like Parmesan cheese. PR has rich umami flavor that as someone who grew up on the green can kind, I can only feel a bit ripped off by what I was missing all those years.

PDO can be problematic, especially when there is terroir which can only be used by a limited number of companies who are granted the mark. It's still a mark I look for, now that I know better. In many ways it acts the same as trademark, ensuring that the purchaser gets the real article. There's no reason to believe that the best example of a product comes with a PDO, but it is at least a very high minimum standard.


eh... 6 months is really stretching it!

Once it has been cut from the wheel, the usable life will be a few weeks maybe a couple months max if properly stored. While it may not mold, it will desiccate and become hard and waxy. You might not be able to tell if you're just grating it finely, but if you're cutting off slivers it will taste different when it's been sitting for too long in the fridge.

Local Italian and gourmet groceries sell it for about the same price as Costco. The advantage over Costco is that you get it cut from the wheel in whatever quantity you want, in front of you and you're not buying it as shrink-wrapped wedge.


'...Once it has been cut from the wheel, the usable life will be a few weeks maybe a couple months max if properly stored. While it may not mold, ... '

Totally true. That's why, when I buy it, I eat a small piece everyday.


Thats the main problem with having a really good piece of parmesan in the fridge - I eat it.


Spot on. Always buy it just cut, when possible. It does make a difference in taste.


real parmigiano doesn't have preservatives so it'll mold in a month after opening; grana padano usually does have and will last longer; both will become dry in time after opening.

in genera both tastes ok even when they dry out, albeit they gets saltier; if one eats cheese slowly, I'd suggest to get one relatively younger (i.e. 9 months) so as the flavor matures it doesn't get overly strong.

they both contain a lot of cholesterol and lot of calories, so I wouldn't call them miracle food, but they do have some nice properties, like they're some of the few cheeses that are suitable for lactose intolerant people (still not for lactose allergic people but ymmv) which makes them a good source of calcium.


> real parmigiano doesn't have preservatives

Salt is a preservative.


does the PDO actually guarantee quality? It guarantees it's made in a particular region, and the case for it is that certain ingredients are only available in that region but, for example, I often buy own-brand 'Italian-style hard cheese', which is effectively the same, it's just made outside of Italy so can't share the name.

Call me cynical, DPOs seem abused and more about protecting regional industries as apposed to guaranteeing quality for consumers.


Well, I suppose nothing can really guarantee quality--the requirements simply make it more difficult to screw up.

For instance, pulling from this article[0]:

>In the highly sanctioned world of Parmigiano-Reggiano, cows graze in pastures; their diet must consist of at least 75 percent local grass. Here in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t mandate diet, and cows typically aren’t pastured; manufacturers reported using various feeds, including hay, corn, soybeans, and grains.

...

> Another factor: raw versus pasteurized milk. In Italy, Parmigiano-Reggiano is always made from raw milk. In the States, the milk is typically pasteurized first. This step kills off potentially dangerous organisms and yields a more consistent product. The downside? The heating process also kills off flavorful microorganisms.

...

>The aging step affects both flavor and texture. Once the wheels come out of the salt bath, they’re set on racks in climate-controlled rooms to age. As the cheese sits, lactic acid forms, and the acid causes proteins in the cheese to squeeze together, which in turn forces out moisture. Parmigiano-Reggianos are required to age for at least 12 months, though most are left for 24. Meanwhile, the FDA mandates a minimum of just 10 months for Parmesan. Thus, the domestic cheeses tended to be rubbery, while the imports were dry and crumbly.

---

So again, you could make a hard cheese that follows none of the requirements but still tastes pretty good. You could also make a Parmigiano-Reggiano that tastes like crap. But if you follow all of the standards, you will more likely come alot closer to replicating the taste of what we associate with Parmigiano-Reggiano than a vat of hard cheese that some guy cooked up in his basement. The standards are specifically there to curtail the shortcuts (less aging, lower-quality ingredients) that unscrupulous companies try to sneak into their cheeses and market as premium, "aged" Parmesan.

[0]https://www.americastestkitchen.com/taste_tests/1695-superma...


AFAIK it does. More than quality is the way they were made.


We buy those wedges at Costco and they last us about 2 months haha! But we use the stuff everywhere: On pasta, on grilled asparagus, in risotto, etc. Everything's better with good Parmigiano!


I buy parmagiano-regianno and find it goes off and starts going moudly at the back (circular bit) after a couple of weeks.

Do you keep it in the fridge, wrapped, what?

How do you store it so it lasts so long?


Mine stays good for 6+ months in the fridge, I buy a big hunk. Moisture and mold control is essential though. There are five key things to do:

- Keep it in a sealed container, otherwise it'll dry out completely in a couple weeks and become inedible

- Put a single folded-up paper towel in the sealed container to absorb gradual amounts of moisture that come out. Otherwise condensation will form on the cheese and mold will grow quickly

- Replace the paper towel with a new one every 2 weeks (it'll be slightly damp)

- Keep the hunk solid (don't pre-cut) and always grate/shave from the "oldest" area. Mold only grows on the surface, so as long as you're using it once every week or two, the surface doesn't exist for too long, so zero mold

- Cut off the rind before any of this, since otherwise it would accumulate mold eventually. Save rinds in the freezer until you make minestrone or another appropriate soup, and cook with them -- they'll stay solid but the soup will absorb all the flavor from the rind, and then you fish it back out at the end

Maybe it sounds like a lot of work, but a $50 chunk can last half the year if you're using it by yourself every couple days for scrambled eggs, simple pastas, shavings on salads, and so on. It turns out to be a pretty affordable luxury.


I have a "Foodsaver" (vacuum sealer) that I use with the block. I'll open the bag, cut off what I think I'll use either immediately or within the next few days, and then vacuum-seal the bag again.

Before I had that, I would usually wrap the cheese in a layer of wax paper, followed by a layer of foil, and put that in the freezer, taking it out as I needed it. Hard cheeses in the freezer will turn white and may no longer be useful to eat shards of on their own, but they're still fine for grating and melting.


Cut the mold off, it wont kill you, its completely safe to do so with hard cheeses.


Or abrade the mold off. Don't be afraid to cut beyond the rind into the proper cheese: almost all of the surface of a piece of cheese is interior in any case and the rind is important for whole wheels aging on a shelf, not to preserve a wedge in the fridge for a few weeks.


I wrap my cheese in a lightly damp paper towel of white vinegar. I suppose that is probably sacrilege and passes on some vinegar taste, but I don't notice and it generally keeps the mold away.


Question for the HC crowd :

Eat the rind or not?

I do, only after the rest is gone.


I don't eat it by itself. I put it in a ziplock bag and stash it in the freezer. Then I pull it out whenever I'm making a savory soup or stew and drop the rind in, usually to be fished out before serving (like a bay leaf). It adds great umami flavor to the dish.


Save it. When you have enough for everybody at the table: GRILL IT, until the rind side gets charred and gets a crunchy thin layer and the cheese side gets kinda soft. Fork and knife, eat it until it's hot (don't burn yourself :D)

This is how my family does it :)


You can add the rind to minestrone.


It's an absolutely delicious cheese, but why write this nutritional nonsense about "perfect food"?


I love my Parmigiano-Reggiano too, but agree, it is not a perfect food (perfect in the sense of "complete"). It doesn't have much fiber for instance.


And it does have saturated fats and cholesterol more than you'd like.


I'm not sure about a cheese being prescribed as a cure... And also, I'm very tired about all those articles that talk about another new 'miraculous food'.


Click bait.


Very true. I've noticed in the past couple of years that the quantity of these kinds of articles on the BBC seems to be increasing, which is a shame because I've long considered them 'above' this kind of journalism. Just looking at their front page it seems over half of the articles are like this. On the other hand, I can understand why - people click and share these kinds of articles much more frequently, so I imagine it makes their advertisers very happy.


Promotional piece dressed-up as news, was my thought.




There's a lot of woo in that article. Yes, Parmesan is made to strict rules; no, i probably couldn't tell it from Grana Padano if i was blindfolded.

And there's an effort from Wisconsin that is apparently very good:

https://www.thekitchn.com/a-morethanworthy-replacement-f-132...


As someone who grew up in the Parmigiano Reggiano production zone and whose family is member of a Parmigiano co-op, I can tell you that it is possible to taste the difference between Parmigiano, grana padano, and the parmesan clones.

It boils down to what you use the cheese for. If you just want to grate it on some pasta, you can use whatever. If you are making tortellini, you better use the 36-month cheese from your casaro (cheese maker).

Edit: Compare the picture of the cheese you link to this one: http://www.caseificioboiardo.it/en/eshop/parmigiano-reggiano...

You can notice right away that the cheese has a different consistency. The American clone is smoother (it looks almost like plastic). The 12-month Parmigiano Reggiano (the youngest "age" that the cheese can be sold as PR) is textured. That signals that the amount of moisture in the American clone is off and that will effect the aging of the cheese and ultimately its taste.


Since you seem to have a first-hand perspective on the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, would you care to comment on the claims of CIWF [1,2] about animal welfare in the region? The situation they describe is quite the opposite of the idyllic pictures in the BBC article. Is the kind of abuse described by CIWF on the rise? Is it specific farms that engage in it? Does the co-op take any measures against them? Can they lose their PDO seal for such abuses?

[1] https://www.ciwf.org.uk/news/2017/11/the-cruel-truth-behind-...

[2] https://www.ciwf.org.uk/philip-lymbery/blog/2017/11/hard-che...


In my experience, I have never seen or heard of anyone grazing their milk cows. I also haven't seen cows being abused or underweight (I don't think that an underweight milk cow would produce much milk, so that wouldn't make sense).

Generally, cows are kept in barns and are usually tied to a rail. This is what I have in mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZij6ZpBwSo&t=3m12s or this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ili9d4OmURk&t=1m3s

As far as I know, cows have been traditionally kept like that, as old barns have a similar set up.

It looks like ciwf is advocating for milk cows to be grazing. I don't think that it is feasible given the current economic and geographical limitations of the Parmiginao Reggiano production zone. Economically, making cheese is barely profitable, with most farmers just making it. Most of the cheese is sold in bulk to wholesalers in the form of "futures". They buy the whole production for a year (for example) before the cheese is ready. That allows the cheese maker to pay the farmers in advance but that also makes it so they can't demand much for the cheese. The other option is to wait and try to sell it directly but they run the risk of not selling the whole stock (also, consider that the cheese as a very short shelf life, as once a cheese form is open it needs to be sold).

Geographically, there isn't really much space for grazing cows. The pianura padana is probably one of the most densely populated areas in Italy. Plus, it is also where most Italian industry is located. I don't think it would be possible to find enough space for all the cows even if it were economically viable.


> no, i probably couldn't tell it from Grana Padano if i was blindfolded.

I can — they are quite different cheeses. Apart from the different taste and texture (Grana Padano has reliably less taste, and is dryer and more crumbly), I am extremely allergic to Grana Padano: after eating even a tiny piece my throat will swell up and slowly constrict (not life threatening, I think, but definitely uncomfortable). Parmigiano Reggiano doesn’t elicit the same reaction. It’s a very reliable, albeit unpractical, way of telling the two apart. Either way, this indicates that they are distinct on a fundamental level.

(Just to clarify: this allergy obviously isn’t specific to Grana Padano, it affects plenty of other dairy products. And, as far as I can tell, seems to be against some by-product of the fermentation that is only present in some dairy products and not others.)


>no, i probably couldn't tell it from Grana Padano if i was blindfolded.

Maybe you lack a sense of smell? Seriously you don't even have to put it in your mouth it already smells quite different...

I buy the cheapest imported stuff here in eastern europe and the difference is...well they're two different types of cheese. They just taste different.


I don't eat cheese regularly and I can taste the difference between Parmigianno Reggiano and Grana Padano when I eat them as-is (not when shaved in a pasta though -- it's harder when it's in a pasta, which is why GP is often used as a cheaper substitute for PR). Otherwise PR tastes much "nuttier" owing to glumates, which is also one of its standout characteristics.

There's another cheese, Pecorino Romano, that's distinctly salty and really good on Carbonara.


Pecorino Romano is my favorite cheese! It’s flavor is more subtle than that of Parmaggiano Reggiano and it lacks some of the bitter notes which makes it excellent for Carbonara as you said. But I think it’s perfect for tomato based pasta sauces as well as most tomato’s are quite high in acidity save a few lesser known varieties like San Marzano for example. PR definitely has its place but I tend to only use it for foods that aren’t acidic themself. Broccoli or brussel sprouts and PR are a great combo for instance!


This cheese they make is one I like http://www.sartoricheese.com/our-cheese/reserve-cheese/monta...

"Is it Cheddar that tastes like Parmesan or Parmesan that tastes like Cheddar? Even though it's indescribable, we know you'll fall in love with this creamy, white wonder."


Fun fact: it is referenced int the classic novel "Treasure Island" by Louis Stevenson (1883):

"If there's any doubt about the matter, he is," returned the doctor. "A man who has been three years biting his nails on a desert island, Jim, can't expect to appear as sane as you or me. It doesn't lie in human nature. Was it cheese you said he had a fancy for?"

"Yes, sir, cheese," I answered.

"Well, Jim," says he, "just see the good that comes of being dainty in your food. You've seen my snuff-box, haven't you? And you never saw me take snuff, the reason being that in my snuff-box I carry a piece of Parmesan cheese--a cheese made in Italy, very nutritious. Well, that's for Ben Gunn!"


Wow, the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium were paying for product placement even back then!


I spy a media promotion campaign.

I've seen 2-3 articles in the last couple of days extolling the virtues (or deserved expense) of parmesan. I guess sales are down.


friendly reminder that if you are concerned about animals or the environment, you should give up dairy products.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding...

as well, these animals are apparently not well treated https://action.ciwf.org.uk/page/20874/action/1?locale=en-GB


Friendly opinion - I think it is wrong to conclude that livestock farming is inherently bad for animals and the environment.

Cow methane as a component of AGW is very over stated. Emissions have been extremely heavily researched by IPCC and ALL of agriculture is rated as contributing to about 15% of global greenhouse gases of human cause[1]. Methane from cows, rice and many other sources is included and weighted in that measurement for its intensity and halflife but is commonly misinterpreted in articles about the subject.

There are serious welfare problems with over-intense and callous livestock farming. But the life of domesticated livestock is not inherently traumatic. Many farmers take pride in the manner they keep their stock which are domesticated to be as content as can be living under humans.

The act of slaughter is morally problematic for sure, but the stress of this one event can be minimised. Livestock can be shielded from awareness and don't consider such things the way humans can. Predation in nature involves running herds of prey to panic and exhaustion, and no less than frenzied violence. Farms animals could well appreciate in ways a less challenging existence.

In order to tackle the huge amount of animal cruelty present in modern farming, I think it is important to respect that many animal farmers are not actually cruel and that livestock farming does not necessarily mistreat animals.

[1] http://www.tsp-data-portal.org/Breakdown-of-GHG-Emissions-by...


The charts in The Guardian's article indicate cheese is much more environmentally friendly than beef consumption.


Indeed, but having heard it once, I found it rather mortifying to hear a milk cow mourn its calf for days on end after the latter got taken away from it. This is about animal welfare more than CO2 emissions. Lab-grown meat and related products can't come fast enough.


that's true, yet cheese is still in the top 5 on the chart and still produces much higher emissions than plant based alternatives.


I've never seen so much food-snobbery in 1 thread before.

Do you guys only eat food sourced from its place of origin 100% of the time? Nothing else will do?


It really saddens me that many folks have only had the generic, relatively flavorless knock-off. The real stuff is a different cheese entirely.


The real stuff, for my palate, is the single best food there is. It’s that good.

Some prosciutto di Parma and Parmasean-reggiano is my last meal.


Exactly. The only thing preventing me from eating a pound of parmigiano is the price. Sad parmesan powder? Nope.

It makes me sad that we have to move the product around the world to consume it because it is just made at 1 precise location, emitting a lot of CO2.


> The only thing preventing me from eating a pound of parmigiano is the price.

That's the only thing?

And just because something was produced locally doesn't necessarily mean it has less carbon footprint than one produced halfway around the world.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1553456/Greener-by-m...


> > The only thing preventing me from eating a pound of parmigiano is the price.

> That's the only thing?

Yes. I did not specify time though. Let's say 8 hours.


Even over that sort of timeline, I don't trust my colon enough to try and tackle that.


Don't buy Parmigiano, they have serious problems with treatment of cows.

Link: https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-11-25/animal-rights-group-s...


I was raised in an Italian-american home with a traditional stay at home mother, authentic home-cooked meals were served every day.

Every week I had to grate this stuff to fill the repurposed glass Smuckers jar kept in the refrigerator for sprinkling on damn near everything.

Us kids were regularly being scolded for devouring the small chunk kept in the drawer, reserved for thinly sliced antipasto use.

This article however seems completely absurd to me. This cheese when grated is basically a dairy-derived flavorful salt substitute.

It is not a health food. You wouldn't tell someone they're practicing healthy eating when shaking salt over their spaghetti, they're doing basically the same thing with grated parmegian while adding more calories than salt alone would.

If you put a block of parm anywhere near me it'll be in my belly within the hour, but every time I do this my pants fit tightly for 2 days from all the retained water. It's a decadent treat I indulge in few times a year, to give myself a block of parm and eat it in one sitting. Mostly for the time machine effect of revisiting childhood. The linked article implies I should do it more often for positive health reasons, and I'm certain doing so would not improve my health one iota.


A little lump of Parmaggiano will, relevant bodily functions permitting, be the last thing I ever eat :)


Only one question, what is the sodium content like? The article is curiously silent on that.


1.6 grams of sodium (about the daily limit) in a hundred grams of Parmigiano-Reggiano. https://www.parmigianoreggiano.com/made/nutritional_features...


Does Grana Padano have the same beneficial qualities as Parmesan?


They're not very different. Grana Padano is fresher and milder. They have similar levels of fat and protein — among the highest of all cheeses for protein, actually.


The grainy texture comes from protein crystals.


Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano are my favorites.


Make sure you try Pecorino Romano if you haven't already (the block, not pre-grated or sliced). My favorite, and I eat it like the author eats parm-reg.

I haven't tried Grana Padano yet, but you can I will!


I tried it once and it tasted very plain


Perhaps you haven't had the real thing? If you are sure you have, then perhaps you need an olfactory receptor checkup.


This comment is mind boggling to me. Both the fact that you've only tasted this cheese once, and that you thought it was plain!


Plain‽ That’s not a word I’d use for PR! I’d encourage you to try some again and maybe go for one that’s older than 12 months.




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