Parmesan Cheese: The Cubic Zirconia of the Culinary World
Look at this diamond ring below. Beautiful right? Big problem though, it's...fake.
What about these gorgeous "diamond" earrings? The perfect Valentine's Day gift, yes? Also...FAKE.
This gorgeous necklace? Yep, you guessed it, also FUGAZI!
They're not diamonds at all. All these are of its cheaper, doppelganger cubic zirconia.
Look, I'm not going to get on my pulpit and act like I haven't faked the funk or told a white lie here and there to get my way okay?
But how I treat the men I date and my food is completely different. I keep it all the way 100% with food and expect the same from it.
So, obviously finding out that one of my favorite cheeses, like cubic zirconia, is fraudulent was in a word: heartbreaking. I'm shaking with righteous fury as I type this. The Parmesan cheese that you know and love is fake AF. A charlatan, fraud, liar, and deceiver!
Let me explain.
I used to spend decent money on Parmesan cheese wedges. They tend to be a bit pricier than say mozzarella or cheddar so I felt pretty damn good about the investment. But the illusion of boujee-ness that I have carefully cultivated came crashing down when I was shown the "real stuff" by the deli man one fateful day last year.
It turns out my friends, that Parmigiano Reggiano is the REAL "Parmesan" cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano in Italian translates roughly to from the cities of Parma and Reggio. These cities in the region of northern Italy are the sole producer of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano. On average the real stuff takes about 1.5-2 years (on the low end) to develop that rich, creamy, nutty taste we all love. The process, waiting time, aging, and world-class taste bring the cost of a single wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano to around $1,200. WOAH🤯. That price can more than double if aged longer. So that would bring the cost of one single pound in the $16-18 range! Now not everyone wants to, nor can afford to purchase the cheese at that price. This created a demand for the flavor of Parmigiano Reggiano without the cost.
This is where Parmesan cheese comes in. Unlike Parmigiano Reggiano, Parmesan can be made anywhere and is much cheaper.
HOWEVER. As I discovered after buying the real deal, the taste of Parmesan cheese is vastly inferior to the real deal. For the longest time, I thought Parmesan cheese was just the Americanized term for the cheese, and boy was I wrong.
Parmigiano Reggiano has a RICH, creamy, full-bodied texture, and flavor. I've been delivered people and if you're willing to make the investment, you will be too my friends.
The fake cheese industry (yes, it's an industry), will fool us no longer!
Here's how to tell the real deal from the fugazi shit.
- has "Parmegiano Reggiano" stenciled on the rind
-has the official logo on packaging
-aged for a minimum of 1.5 years
-the TASTE. Trust me, you'll notice.
-smoother, creamier texture
-almost never pre-shredded, #teamwedgeonly
-has "Parmesan" on label
-no official Parmigiano Reggiano logo
-usually aged for less than a year
- can often be found pre-shredded or even...bottled 🤢🤭
How to spot the real stuff:
The official Parmegiano Regianno logo
Look for Parmiginnao "tattoo" on the outside rinds
(My favorite Whole Food spot in Chicago)
Look for Quality: authentic Parmigiano Reggiano tends to be darker, richly layered, and Smells AAAaaaamazing.
(A close-up of the authentic goodness)
Talk to whoever is selling you your cheese, they'll help you make sure you're getting the real deal if you're ever in doubt. Keep it 100% and invest in the real stuff. And if you ever catch me using Parmesan cheese again, please check on me because something is VERY wrong.
Parmigianno Reggiano: Definitely worth the investment