THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ITALIAN
Undoubtedly, food is one of the highest expressions of Italian quality, but also one of the areas most vulnerable to fraud. How to recognize quality and spot imposters.
“What’s in a name?,” asks the Juliet immortalized by William Shakespeare. “That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” No poetry lover would deny the beauty of those words by the Veronese maiden. Yet, while Shakespeare’s heroine’s words hold their charm, in some cases the question of name becomes of crucial importance, especially when we talk about flavor. In fact, if a rose by another name held the same fragrance, the same rule would not apply. Take for example, an Italian culinary jewel Parmigiano Reggiano. There is an abyss between Parmigiano and Parmesan, created by of flavor nuances, quality of the ingredients, preparation rules and ageing, which goes well beyond a handful of letters. The phenomenon of Italian Sounding is a real betrayal: it exploits a phonetic assonance to associate an uncertified and low quality product with one of Italian excellence. It is truly a crime against the tradition of Belpaese. Perhaps, then, starting from the name in this case is not at a misguided idea: call an Italian delight by its official name and the related certification becomes the starting point for familiarizing its organoleptic characteristics that make it truly unique and special around the world. Why yes, let’s face it, Parmigiano, as well as Gorgonzola or Pomodoro San Marzano dell’agro Sarnese-nocerino PDO and many other specialties, have absolutely no taste if you find them on the shelves under another name. It is called “the King of Cheeses”, and there is a reason. The intensity of taste, the meticulous workmanship and the quality of the product make Parmigiano Reggiano one of the most loved and widespread cheeses in the world and - perhaps for this reason - among the most counterfeited. But a mispronunciation of the name does not make an imitation taste authentic. Although the issue of the cheese’s origins may only seem like bureaucracy to some, in reality this is fundamental to understand the differences between the cheeses available on the market. The PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) of Parmigiano Reggiano, in fact, guarantees the respect of well-defined standards, and the application of stringent rules on the nutrition of milk-producing cows that are sourced to prepare the Parmigiano. It also includes which types of cows can be used during the production of cheese, how it must be processed and how long it has to age. These