The King of cheeses rolls out the red carpet for visitors from all over the world, from Milan to Via Emilia
Feeding the planet, energy for life. This is the core theme of Expo 2015 in Milan. And which kind of product could best represent this important message? Parmigiano-Reggiano, the King of cheeses, of course.
This unique product is exceptionally rich in proteins, lipids, calcium and phosphorus. No special ingredient or artificial manipulation of temperature is allowed. The secrets of this exceptional food product are three vital characteristics: conservation of an extremely high food potential, inimitable flavor and easy digestibility.
Since medieval times the Benedictine monks have started producing this great cheese. However, before the 12th century, parchment papers concerned only Pecorino (sheep cheese). It was in 1159 that Matilde di Canossa, one of the most important and interesting female figures of Italian Middle Ages, founded the Abbey of Marola, in Reggio-Emilia, marking the beginning of Parmigiano-Reggiano history.
After nine centuries, Parmigiano Consortium is participating in Expo 2015, from May to October, with more than 70 cheese factories. The FFD (Future Food District) chose Parmigiano-Reggiano as the unique product that will represent the Italian dairy chain. In Milan, in the area dedicated to the king of cheeses, didactics activities and tasting events will be organized. The aim is to improve knowledge about distinctive characteristics of the Parmigiano-Reggiano identity. Visitors at Expo, could literally attend the “Parmigiano School”.
There is more. Travellers could also participate in person in the Parmigiano making process, thanks to the initiative “Caseifici aperti” (Open Dairies), desired by the Consortium. Factories around the area of production of Parmigiano-Reggiano will be opened to follow guests through a path that shows cheese makers working on the product.
I went to see how dairies join the initiative. Fior di Latte Dairy is one of the sector leader in the Bolognese Apennines, at the border between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. They showed me the whole Parmigiano making process, from the elaboration of milk to the maturation rooms.
Cheese makers are the custodians and interpreters of secrets of the true craft of milk processing, and although, in hundreds of artisan cheese diaries, they all work with their hands in the same way, the result is inextricably linked to their personal experience and sensitivity, giving an appreciable diversity of taste and aromas.
A guided tour like the one I experienced in Fior di Latte Dairy allows visitors learn the ancient tradition of transforming milk into cheese, a special way to enter the productive culture of territory and discover how this absolute food excellence of Made in Italy is created. The Consortium offers the opportunity of having a guided tour in several languages. Owners of the dairies will also offer tastings of various aging at the end of the tour. The experience can be shared with #caseificiaperti on the most influential social media.
“Expo 2015 will bring visitors from over the world – says Riccardo Deserti, director of the Consortium – coming to discover the great heritage of our peninsula; we want to offer visitors the desire to come and visit the area of origin of Parmigiano-Reggiano to live and breathe the production experience. To facilitate this, the Consortium has developed an App, free to download, to serve as a full audio guide in 11 languages, accompanying visitors from all over the world in their discovery of Parmigiano-Reggiano production”.
True travellers are constantly spurred on by the desire to discover new places and every time they take home a variety of images, flavors, aromas and sounds that encompasses the charm of cities and natural scenarios. This is what happens to those who decide to visit the area where Parmigiano cheese is produced, the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantova and Bologna. Along the Via Emilia tourists will experience an authentic and stunning combination of history, nature, art and traditions. With the common denominator of the ancient road that connects Rimini to Piacenza, Emilia Romagna presents the excellences of its tourist offer: from the incredible flavors of the Food Valley, to the Motor Valley with its inimitable brand dream (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati, Maserati), passing to the Wellness Valley, from history and culture of the millennial cities of art to the amazing scenarios of the Apennines.
Matching tips? Parmigiano-Reggiano is a very versatile cheese that has been widely used in cooking since ancient times. It can be used as a condiment, as an ingredient, in recipes or other preparations, but it can be also savored as a food, eaten in small chunks, simply accompanied with a great wine.
Wedding oriented? Match a 24 month-aged Parmigiano with a Lambrusco Grasparossa DOP. You will be able to enjoy flavors and aromas strongly linked to the same territory, the Emilia side.
But if cheating tempts you, even if just in your food dreams, choose a 30 month-aged Parmigiano and combine it with a Sangiovese Superiore of Romagna DOP. Same region, two different areas, a strong and inebriating combination.
By Margherita Biagi
Margherita is an expert in traditional Made in Italy production, in particular what concerns the food, wine and motor (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini) sectors of Emilia Romagna, the region where she was born. She specializes in intercultural business communication with experience in dealing with companies that want to expand activities on the international market, in particular the Chinese market due to her studies of language, culture and economy of China.