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Parmigiano Reggiano, Valserena

The first recorded reference to Parmigiano-Reggiano dates back to 1344 in a purchasing ledger for a prior's refectory. That comes as no surprise given that the monks of Emilia-Romagna were long experimenting with cheesemaking, including double-heating the milk to produce Parmigiano-Reggiano's signature pasty consistency that would eventually harden into dense drums. Far more intriguing is that the second oldest reference to the cheese can be found in Giovanni Bocaccio's 1353 masterpiece, The Decameron. Through Bocaccio's work, we get a glimpse into life in medieval Italy, including how they ate: "and there was a whole mountain of Parmigiano cheese, all finely grated, on top of which stood people who were doing nothing but making macaroni and ravioli."

Claims have been made that Parmigiano-Reggiano has been made according to the same recipe for over 800 years. Real Parmigiano-Reggiano can be made only in specific regions from mid-April to mid-November. This ensures that the milk used comes from cows who were pastured on fresh local grass. The cheese is hard, gratable and sometimes crunchy with deep, rich flavors, which heighten any food it graces.

Located in the lowlands of the Po River Valley, Valserena is reportedly the oldest Parmigiano dairy in Italy. The Serra family has been breeding cows in the same location since the 1700s. The family incorporates a slightly higher percentage of fat into their Parmigiano, giving this classic cheese a richer flavor and creamier texture.

Farm / Company: Valserena/Rogers Collection

Cheesemaker:

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Region: Emilia-Romagna

Country: Italy

Milk Type: Cow

Milk Treatment: Raw

Rennet: Traditional

Rind: Natural

Texture: Hard

Aging: 24 months

Size(s): 80-pound wheel or 20-pound quarter-wheel