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parmesan-making process starts early in the morning and takes about 2–3 hours of manual work. The men start by mixing the milk in a tank before adding whey and raising the forms into a heavy ball that falls at the bottom of the tank. After being recuperated with the help of a cloth, the ball is transferred into a round mold where over two daysit will take its shape. The cheese will then be bathed in salted water for 20-something days before being put on a shelf to age for a minimum of 12

months, after which it will be inspected for quality. Just as the vinegar, the quality is rigorously controlled and if it meets the requirements of the Consorzio ParmigianoReggiano, it will be marked with their logo. If not, it will be marked with lines and will not be sold as Parmigiano Reggiano, but under a different name and for a cheaper price. One of the most celebrated (and expensive) parmesan cheeses is the Vacche Rosse Parmigiano Reggiano.

If you have the chance to get a hold of these two incredible products, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and Parmigiano Reggiano, here’s a simple idea for a snack: Break a piece of cheese with your fingers, top it with a drop or two of vinegar and let it melt in your mouth. Enjoy. This, my friends, is Italy.

And if you’re still hungry, serve it alongside some cured meats. In Reggio, the Cotechino Modena (pork, fatback and pork rind) is a popular sausage. You’ll find this product and many more at Antica Salumeria Di Giorgio Pancaldi (Via Broletto, 1/P, 42100 Reggio Emilia).

I could talk about Reggio (and Italian food in general, to be honest) for days, but an article about the best food of Italy would not be complete without a true authentic Italian recipe starring…yes, Parmigiano Reggiano! Here’s my twist of a Basic Parmesan Risotto.

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