Boccaccio, in his famous book, “Decameron”, invents a ” mountain, all of Parmesan cheese“, in which “dwell folk that do nought else but make macaroni and ravioli…..” Sounds like a very decadent style of living, huh? I cite this in support of the general theory that Parmesan cheese was created somewhere in the Middle Ages, and was already known and loved by the thirteenth century. In addition, it has had many celebrated devotees down the ages, including no less a personage than Samuel Pepys, who, during the great fire of London, admitted to having buried his Parmesan cheese and wines in safety!
That which we know as Parmesan is, in Europe, a protected cheese, called Parmigiano -Reggiano. The true Parmigiano is made from cow’s milk between May and November in Modena, Parma, Reggio Emilia or parts of Bologna and Mantova. What’s more, the cows have to be fed only grass. It’s aged by steeping in brine made of Mediterranean sea-salt for a minimum of two years.The result is a cheese that’s loved all over the world as the preferred topping for salads, pizzas and pastas.
An interesting offshoot of this whole business of Parmesan cheese-making is that pigs are fed the discarded whey. The ham that is produced from these pigs is called Proscuitto di Parma. For this reason, piggeries are often located close to the cheese farms.
For ages, Italian doctors have recommended Parmesan cheese for aged people as well as infants and athletes, because it has 33% protein, as compared to lean beef, which has 20%. The long process of ageing ensures that the proteins in this are already broken down, so they put no strain on the metabolism. In addition to being an excellent source of Vitamin A, which improves vision, it promotes the development of Bacillus Bifidus, which helps to maintain a healthy gut. It contains no lactose either, which makes it ideal for those with lactose intolerance.
Our weight-conscious friends may turn up their noses at Parmesan as a fat – rich food, but, believe me, the cholesterol present in Parmesan is much lower than other full-fat cheeses. The fat is present as short-chain fatty acids, which are broken down and converted to energy quickly.
Now, I hope you’re convinced that the nutritional benefits of Parmesan literally outweigh (!) any other considerations, and are ready to try out these scintillating recipes:
1. Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings:
We’ve tried chicken wings with various permutations and combinations, now how about this one with a piquant flavour of garlic and herbs?
2. Grilled T-bone Steak with Parmesan Cheese topping:
A cheesy twist to the age-old steak.
3. Gougeres: Spicy Parmesan Cheese Puffs:
An engaging presenter, with a baked variation of the fried cheese puff, so you can eat without guilt.
4.Pesto Parmesan Bread:
Mama Redbuck belies her years with her briskness and alacrity in the kitchen. The plaited bread she dishes up is a treat to the eyes as well as the tongue.
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