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Formaggio Italiano: How the Boot Does Cheese

Updated on December 21, 2011
Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese. - Billie Burke
Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese. - Billie Burke | Source
Root word of cheese comes from the Latin caseus, which also gives us the word casein, the milk protein that is the basis of cheese. In Old English,caseus was cīese or cēse, which became chese in Middle English, finally becoming cheese in Modern Eng
Root word of cheese comes from the Latin caseus, which also gives us the word casein, the milk protein that is the basis of cheese. In Old English,caseus was cīese or cēse, which became chese in Middle English, finally becoming cheese in Modern Eng | Source

One is inevitably bombarded with spectacular tastes when visiting Italy. But among its many culinary delights, cheese remains at the heart of its extraordinary fare. Italy celebrates more than 450 kinds of cheese—many are world-famous for their method of production, taste, and texture. Many of Italy’s favorite cheeses are made according to time-honored traditions; this attention to historical detail makes Italian cheese some of the best in the world.

The following cheeses are some of Italy’s most popular.

Parmigiano-Reggiano also known in English as Parmesan is a hard granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas near Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna.
Parmigiano-Reggiano also known in English as Parmesan is a hard granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas near Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna. | Source

Parmigiano-Reggiano

This internationally-acclaimed cheese hails from the Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy regions of Italy. A cow cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano is yellow and flaky. Sold in wheels with straw-colored rinds, this cheese becomes more fragrant with age. This hard cheese must be aged for at least twelve months. Historians believe this cheese was most likely invented during the Middle Ages. It is widely enjoyed today, however, and typically grated over pasta dishes or stirred into risotto.



Asiago

A cow’s milk cheese that hails from the Veneto, Asiago also has its origins in the Middle Ages. It is a widely popular cheese that is added to pasta, pizza, soup, rice, and many other Italian dishes. As Asiago is particularly easy to digest and is rich in calcium, it is a favorite cheese of Italy’s elderly population. Aged versions of Asiago taste sharp, while younger examples are popular for their mild and sweet taste.

A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (French lawyer and politician, epicure and gastronome, 1755-1826)
A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (French lawyer and politician, epicure and gastronome, 1755-1826) | Source
Fontina cheese is a semi-hard cheese made from the whole milk of cows in the Aosta Valley of northern Italy. It has a vibrant history beginning with the settlements in the valley, and the name Fontina has since been protected by Europe's DOP.
Fontina cheese is a semi-hard cheese made from the whole milk of cows in the Aosta Valley of northern Italy. It has a vibrant history beginning with the settlements in the valley, and the name Fontina has since been protected by Europe's DOP. | Source




Fontina

Fontina cheese originated in northern Italy’s Valle d’Aosta during the twelfth century. Fontina has a 45% milk fat content and is known for its intense flavor. It is often substituted for other cheeses like Gruyere or Gouda. While Fontina is made in other places, Fontina from Valle d’Aosta is made from unpasteurized milk and pairs particularly well with mushrooms and roasted meats.







Gorgonzola

A famous Italian blue cheese, this crumbly and salty cheese is made from either cow or goat’s milk. Historians believe that this cheese was first made in the town of Gorgonzola around 879 A.D. Today, Gorgonzola is made in northern Italy and is aged between four and six months. Italians love to melt Gorgonzola into risotto, but the cheese is also added to pizza and pasta dishes.


Comes from the unskimmed milk of an Italian cow. Gorgonzola is the name of the milk from the cow. The milk is named after a village that was once outside the city of Milan.
Comes from the unskimmed milk of an Italian cow. Gorgonzola is the name of the milk from the cow. The milk is named after a village that was once outside the city of Milan. | Source
Mozzarella was first made in Italy near Naples from the rich milk of water buffalos. Because it was not made from pasteurized milk and because there was little or no refrigeration the cheese had a very short shelf-life.
Mozzarella was first made in Italy near Naples from the rich milk of water buffalos. Because it was not made from pasteurized milk and because there was little or no refrigeration the cheese had a very short shelf-life. | Source


Mozzarella

A favorite cheese the world over, Mozzarella is typically a white cheese that tops pizza and pasta dishes. Mozzarella’s milk source is either the cow or water buffalo. Mozzarella made from water buffalo milk is known as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and dates to the twelfth century. Food historians believe in originated in Campania and Lazio.




Pecorino Romano

A sheep’s milk cheese, Pecorino Romano was invented about two thousand years ago. It was a staple of the ancient Roman army and was revered for its salty and bold flavor. According to historians, Pecorino Romano originated in the regions of Sardinia, Tuscany, and Lazio. Typically aged for at least eight months, Pecorino Romano is widely used in pasta dishes.

Of course, this is just a small sample of Italy’s famous cheeses. With over 450 varieties to choose from, Italians are among the world’s cheese connoisseurs. In fact, bread and cheese in Italy can be a gourmet affair. Be sure to try some of Italy’s best regional cheeses or add them to your favorite Italian meals.

Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese, suitable primarily for grating, made out of sheep milk (the Italian word pecora, from which the name derives, means sheep).
Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese, suitable primarily for grating, made out of sheep milk (the Italian word pecora, from which the name derives, means sheep). | Source

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      When we tasted Parmiggiano in Parma, we couldn't stop tasting the difference from what we often get in North America.

    • moiragallaga profile image
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      Moira Garcia Gallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Cheese and a lovely setting, add a bit of wine, a little bread and some meats - perfect!

    • profile image

      MP50 5 years ago

      You are welcome and right, the cheese you write about in Italy is "Awesome" and gets even better if you visit a small Canton or Village, nice Hub.

    • moiragallaga profile image
      Author

      Moira Garcia Gallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thanks for the vote up and for your comment MP50. I totally agree with you, cheese is simply awesome.

    • profile image

      MP50 5 years ago

      Spent some time in Italy myself. The cheese is "awesome"

      Voted up.