Via Scoop.itGood Things From Italy

On a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to visit a co-op that makes Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a first for me – I have witnessed the cheesemaking process before and have even tried my hand at making chèvre but I had never before observed the making of a hard, aged cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. This particular co-op was based close to Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. A small group of nearby farmers bring milk to the co-operative each week and, starting at 5am every day, that milk begins a process that transforms it into a cheese so many of us know and love.   Parmigiano Reggiano is a DOP product. In Italian, DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin). A DOP item in Italy is like an AOC item in France – champagne is perhaps one of the most familiar examples – to legally be called champagne, it must come from the Champagne region and be made following certain methods of production. The Parmigiano Reggiano name is similar. Cheese bearing the “Parmigiano Reggiano” name must come from a specified geographic area and follow certain guidelines of production. That geographic area includes the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena, as well as parts of Bologna and Mantua.