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The Curiosity

QUALITY CONTROL OF THE WHOLE CHEESE

Right at first sight one can understand the "whole cheese" health: its rind must be golden and brown, with drops of sweat and some possible reddening. An important procedure to establish the real quality of the product is "tapping". By tapping one can extract a minimum quantity of cheese thanks to the screw-shaped needle: the resistance opposed by cheese to the penetration gives some information about its consistence; the cheese extracted reveals the flavour and the maturing stage. Some other characteristics are clearly visible at first sight; the cheese must be yellow pale and the colour must be evenly distributed. Also the sound produced by the whole cheese when it is hammered by a special hammer is extremely important for an expert of Parmigiano-Reggiano. A trained ear is able to give a judgement about the inner structure of the whole cheese and its consistence: if the sound is hard the content of Parmigiano-Reggiano is homogeneous and compact, while if the sound is deep-toned and booming it’s very likely that there are some swellings, bladders or empty zones; in this case the "whole cheese" is inevitably depreciated or it can also be rejected.

THE SAMPLING GROUP OF THE UNION OF PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

Since 1989 it has been established a "sampling group" formed by real experts of Parmigiano-Reggiano with the task of trying to identify its main characteristics on the basis of a sensorial analysis (visual, tactile, gustative and auditory) of the product, to identify and distinguish Parmigiano-Reggiano from other type of cheese or from possible imitations. According to this scrupulous analysis, specific parameters were fixed and they are the following:

-STRUCTURE: granular structure, friability, tyrosine crystals and solubility in mouth of Parmigiano-Reggiano, perceived during mastication, are the physical characteristics essential to identify the product;

-TASTE: as far as taste is concerned, a good product sapidity has been pointed out, made of a combination of salty, sweet and spicy taste, with a relative low percentage for each of these characteristics. Harmony of taste is given by the balance among the above mentioned characteristics;

-FLAVOUR: it is the most fascinating and typical aspect, but it is also the most difficult to be judged. Parmigiano-Reggiano turns out to be quite fragrant with some volatile tones that evaporate quickly; then, soon after having grated the cheese, part of the flavours evaporates in the air and that’s why we recommend to grate the product always shortly before eating it to have the chance to taste it fully. As Parmigiano-Reggiano matures, it tends to pass from butter and fresh fruit flavours to dried fruit and nutmeg ones. Due to the artisan production methods, there are often clear-cut differences among the cheeses produced in the various dairies thus pointing out the importance of the human factor in the production and differentiating Parmigiano-Reggiano from many other mass, standardise products with a homogenous and neutral taste.

APHRODISIAC ?

Folk-tradition attributes to Parmigiano-Reggiano aphrodisiac properties; from the merely scientific point of view this hasn’t been demonstrated, but probably the belief that Parmigiano-Reggiano can revive or increase sexual desire comes from its unique properties. By containing many nutritive principles and stimulating elements that can improve physical and intellectual performances, Parmigiano-Reggiano assures a good resistance to fatigue, stress, "surmenage". Folk-traditions, then have often a true foundation.

– In Emilia region it’s a tradition at parties and banquets offering in the middle of the table a big whole cheese of Parmigiano-Reggiano split in two, with the rind used as natural plate from which the guests take cheese flakes with the special almond-shaped knife.

    

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