In the Middle Ages the Benedictine and Cistercian monks, committed to finding a cheese that could last long, were the first producers: using the salt from the Salsomaggiore salt mines and the milk of the cows bred in the granges, i.e. the farms belonging to the monasteries, the monks obtained a dry paste cheese in large wheels suitable for long preservation.
The first evidence of the sale of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese dates back to 1200: a notarial deed drawn up in Genoa in 1254 is evidence of the fact that the Caseus Parmensis (the cheese from Parma) was already known in a city that was so far from its production area. In the 14th century trade developed as far as the Romagna, Piedmont and Tuscany regions, reaching also the ports of the Mediterranean Sea.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard, dry cheese 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. Parmigiano-Reggianos are aged at least two years.
Their complex flavor and extremely granular texture are a result of the long aging. Parmigiano-Reggiano has been called the "King of Cheeses" and Italians don't just slap this phrase on any old cheese. There are criteria that have to be followed.
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