Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's never too early in the morning for PR!

I mean for Parmigiano-Reggiano! :) I just love it, any time of the day!
It's the most famous of the Italian "grana" (grainy textured) hard cheeses...
Its most famous competition, Grana Padano, comes from neighbouring Lombardy and while the two cheeses are made in a very similar way, Padano is sold much younger and therefore, its taste is milder and less crumbly.

First rule of buying Parmigiano-Reggiano: - always buy Parmigiano-Reggiano! Its imitators are precisely that and life is too short to drink bad sake (hmm, now that I think about it - is there bad sake?) and eat poor cheese! Unlike the real PR, imitations are made with pasteurized cheese and too much salt, and the aging process is limited to a few months and not years. Shaking sawdust out a cardboard container simply cannot compare to grating the real thing and by the way, I advise storing your PR in a chunk as the grated variety is prone to prematurely drying out.

The tradition of grating PR over pasta is long-standing. In fact, for centuries, pasta's only topping was cheese and spices - a tomato topping did not become popular until the 19th century.
Your chunk of PR, tightly wrapped in foil or plastic, will stay moist and crumbly in your fridge crisper for a few weeks. But even old, dried-out PR can be a delight - toss the rind on a grill for 20 minutes and then you can enjoy soft, warm PR over fresh bread!

I am sure you know this already but it's worth repeating - PR is named after the area of Northern Italy, around the cities of Parma and Reggio, where it has always been made.
 But did you also know that this is the cheese the great English Diarist, Samuel Pepys, buried in an effort to save it from the Great Fire of London in 1666? And did you know that in 1914, the great Italian restauranteur, Alfredo Di Lelio, grated PR over noodles, cream and butter and presto! - Fettucine Alfredo was born!

Have some PR tonight, or even this morning!
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Photo credits: Thomarob, Chaxiubao (both on Flickr)


  1. I love the way it smells!

  2. Can't say I've ever had PR for breakfast.
    Did Sam Pepys ever retrieve his cheese? :)

  3. I just had some PR with penne and carmelized onions and garlic for dinner. Best cheese ever!

  4. SLB: that a'girl!
    Ms Givens: I agree-the smell alone is simply divine!
    Jan: need to look further into Mr. Pepys' "outcome" - will get back to you - wink!

    Jocelyn: hmm....carmelized onions and it's only 6:35 am as I write this....carmelized onions always sound good to me!