academia barilla  January 2007

Let’s talk about Parmigiano-Reggiano!

Ok, now you know it all about DOP and regional Denominazioni – [...]

Ok, now you know it all about DOP and regional Denominazioni - let’s start the new year examining some of the most famous Italian DOP gourmet products: let’s begin with Parmigiano-Reggiano, the king of cheeses.


What a cheese! Parmigiano-Reggiano, the original “Parmesan”, is perhaps one of the best known cheeses in the world, right up there with Brie and Cheddar. Its origins go back to the lovely city of Parma, where, in fact, Academia Barilla happens to be headquartered. Sure, you could say that we’re a bit biased about this cheese, but, at the same time, isn’t it nice to be able to promote such a great product that’s grown right in our own backyard?

Before I jump too much into the discussions of production, uses, and proliferation of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, let me first give you some background on the lovely Emilia-Romagna region in which this great cheese is produced.

This fertile region, in the north of Italy, is based around the River Po, and is home to a large amount of verdant land, especially in the plains and valleys around the towns of Parma and Reggio Emilia. It is in the 20 miles or so between these two towns that the fantastic cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano is produced, and of course the product takes its name as such.

While Emilia-Romagna produces Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto di Parma, it is also home to the most famous Italian culinary creation: Pasta! It has a rich culinary tradition as being the bread-basket, butcher shop and pasta counter for all of Italy; the Barilla pasta company and the Barilla Group are also headquartered here, and the town of Bologna is renowned throughout the world for its incredible pasta creations.

Since Roman times, the region has been an agricultural and culinary center, as products were brought along the old Via Emilia that used to run directly from Piacenza down to Rimini on the coast, where it connected to the famous Via Flaminia that came from Rome. Nowadays, quality food products and traditional cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano are still produced in Emilia-Romagna, but their transport to Rome, and throughout the rest of the world, is much easier.

Parmigiano-Reggiano full wheelYou can even get an entire wheel shipped to your house from Italy in a matter of days from its production date! (Academia Barilla’s online shop will even ship you a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano in 2 days!)

In my next installment, I’ll cover the specifics of this incredible cheese – how and exactly where it is made, what type of milk goes into it, how long it is aged and much more.

Have a fantastic New Gourmet Year!

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