THE IM­POR­TANCE OF BE­ING ITAL­IAN

All About Italy (USA) - - Contents -

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

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