Remember when you were back in school and your peers used to invent a shortened version of your name in order to say it quicker? Mine was always pretty simple. Andrew Tyson only ever went as far as 'Andy', 'Tyson' or occasionally 'Stretch' due to my lanky appearance. However, nicknames/shortened names can sometimes be confusing to others. To name a few, I've had friends called The Train, Boozer, Maverick, Okra, The Blue Whale and Kooch! Shortened names are also often given to things that one holds dear such as sports teams, cars and places. It doesn't happen too much with cheese though. Maybe that's why lots of people get confused with Parmigiano Reggiano.
'Hello, got any Parm?' he said abruptly. I knew what he wanted immediately. He had been in the store with his wife the week before and she had taken a nice respectable chunk of Reggiano with a small rind from the display. 'Of course' I replied. I know the word 'Parm' is a general term and could mean any number of hard Italian grating cheeses but like I said, I knew what he wanted. I took the gentleman to the Reggiano display. 'Here you go' I said, motioning towards the oddly-shaped, jagged edges of Parmesan mountain. The man picked a piece up and inspected the label. 'No, this is wrong, I'm looking for Parm' he continued, 'this label says some Italian name, Reggy something.' I told the gentleman that I can assure him that Parmigiano Reggiano was the 'long name' for the cheese he was looking for. He looked at me with distrust and over the top of his glasses he said 'I hope you're right because if I go home with the wrong thing then my wife will not be happy!' On telling him that I had seen his wife ask me for the location of the Parmesan display just the other week his shoulders visibly relaxed and he popped the piece straight in his basket!
Parmigiano Reggiano is still made today as it was hundreds of years ago using honest and traditional methods. It is the absolute king of cheeses and it squashes everything in it's path with it's 90lb total wheel weight. Every wheel has it's own unique marking branded onto the cheese and during production and maturation the wheels are inspected EVERY day to ensure consistency. Approximately 550 liters of cow's milk is used in every wheel produced and according to figures there were over 3,300,000 wheels made in 2014!
A cheese as historic as this absolutely has to have protected status of origin and as a result it is only produced in five provinces throughout Italy. As well being the ingredient in many dishes it is fantastic grated over pretty much anything and the rind can be added to soups and stews to increase the flavor! Just this week I cracked open a new wheel to be released upon the world and just started handing out samples to people walking by. I couldn't help myself! A freshly cut wheel of Parmesan is easily worth two in the bush. It literally melts in your mouth. There's no beating it, it's the king of cheese. King of Kings. Even if the name does make husbands worry!