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home > food & wine dictionary > Parmesan cheese

Food and Wine Dictionary


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 Parmesan cheese    [PAHR-muh-zahn]

This hard, dry cheese is made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow's milk. It has a hard, pale-golden rind and a straw-colored interior with a rich, sharp flavor. There are Parmesan cheeses made in Argentina, Australia and the United States, but none compares with Italy's preeminent Parmigiano-Reggiano, with its granular texture that melts in the mouth. Whereas the U.S. renditions are aged 14 months, Parmigiano-Reggianos are more often aged 2 years. Those labeled stravecchio  have been aged 3 years, while stravecchiones  are 4 years old. Their complex flavor and extremely granular texture are a result of the long aging. The words Parmigiano-Reggiano stenciled on the rind mean that the cheese was produced in the areas of Bologna, Mantua, Modena or Parma (from which the name of this cheese originated). Parmesans are primarily used for grating and in Italy are termed GRANA, meaning "grain" and referring to their granular textures. Pregrated Parmesan is available but doesn't compare with freshly grated. Both domestic and imported Parmesans are available in specialty cheese stores, Italian markets and many supermarkets. See also  CHEESE.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


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