National Parmigiano Reggiano Day offers a delicious opportunity for people all around the globe to show appreciation for and celebrate their love of cheese. Whether from everyday consumers, cheese lovers, foodies or chefs, this day brings the focus onto one specific cheese, internationally known as the “King of Cheese”, but officially called Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmigiano Reggiano describes a category of cheeses that are made with just a few simple ingredients that include raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk, sea salt, and special enzymes. Cheese-making is not for the faint of heart, as each wheel is lovingly created with heaps of passion and expertise, as well as a great deal of patience. In fact, it takes a minimum of twelve months (but up to forty months!) for a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano to be aged to perfection.
When enjoying a slice, chunk or other portion of this cheese, it is important to remember that a thousand years of history and tradition have gone into the planning and production of this beloved and cherished cheese. And it is this rich history, along with a tasty future, that are brought together and celebrated on National Parmigiano Reggiano Day!
History of National Parmigiano Reggiano Day
While this particular cheese has a history that can be traced back many centuries, the beginnings of National Parmigiano Reggiano Day are a bit more recent. This day was founded by the Consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano as a way to commemorate the two earthquakes in May 2012, which devastated the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy where Parmigiano Reggiano has been lovingly made for more than 900 years.
These earthquakes brought devastation to tens of thousands of residents, collapsing historical landmarks, bell towers and churches as well as factories. Chef Massimo Bottura, a native of the region where the earthquakes happened, worked together with many famous chefs and restaurants in an effort to “save the cheese”.
Because years of cheese production was lost in the disaster, National Parmigiano Reggiano Day was taken to social media with a new recipe by Massimo Bottura: Riso cacio e pepe. The recipe is a simple one with risotto and cheese, but the concept was meant to raise awareness and support for the cheesemakers.
The inaugural event was a huge success, with 40,000 online participants, and at least 360,000 wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese sold!
Since that time, each year the Consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano encourages restaurants, chefs, and families to try making a dish of their choice that includes this cheese on National Parmigiano Reggiano Day!
National Parmigiano Reggiano Day Timeline
First Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is recorded
A notarial deed drawn up in Genoa records refers to Caseus Parmensis which translates to “cheese from Parma”.
Parmigiano Reggiano wheel size increases
To get more out of the production process, the wheel size of this venerable cheese increases to reach up to 40 pounds each!
Official Parmigiano Reggiano declaration is made
To protect the region from competitors, the Duke of Parma Ranuccio I Farnese defines the places from which “the cheese from Parma” should come.
Mark of origin for Parmigiano Reggiano is approved
To further protect this official cheese from imposters, a consortium of dairies in the Parmigiano Reggiano region approve its special mark of origin.
First National Parmigiano Reggiano Day is celebrated
When two earthquakes hit the region of Italy where Parmigiano Reggiano is made, Chef Massimo Bottura is inspired to help out by creating the day.
How to Celebrate National Parmigiano Reggiano Day
Those who are interested in getting more involved with food days can certainly find a wide range of ways to celebrate on National Parmigiano Reggiano Day! Have a load of fun with some of these ideas:
Get Creative with Parmigiano Reggiano
The fun of cooking and enjoying delicious foods can’t be denied when it comes to celebrating National Parmigiano Reggiano Day! On a day like this one, having fun with cheese is the most important task. Order up a wedge – or a whole wheel! – of this special cheese from a local supplier and get started with some unique and interesting recipe ideas that can be found on the internet. From pasta dishes and scrambled eggs, to snacks like cookies and cheese straws, this versatile cheese offers a myriad of options for enjoying and celebrating.
Learn Fun Facts About Parmigiano Reggiano
In light of the historical and cultural significance of the region where this cheese is made, National Parmigiano Reggiano Day offers a wide range of opportunities for learning more about this cheese as well as the place where it is produced. Raise awareness for the day by learning a few fun facts and sharing them as part of the celebration. Get started with some of these:
Since 2008, the term “parmesan” was deemed protected within the European Union, only to be used on cheeses that are made in the particular Parmigiano Reggiano region in Italy.
It takes more than 500 liters of raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk to make one wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which weighs around 85 pounds.
Both the US and Russian space programs have decided that Parmigiano Reggiano is an exceptionally good cheese for their astronauts.
The longer the cheese ages, the more flavorful it gets. Parmigiano Reggiano at 18 months is sweet and mild, at 24 months is more savory and grainy, and at 36 months is stronger and a bit salty.
Experiment with Riso Cacio e Pepe
In a nod to the historic and business-saving gesture initiated by Massimo Bottura in light of the Italian earthquakes of 2012, one superb idea for National Parmigiano Reggiano Day would be to get creative in the kitchen with Bottura’s recipe for riso cacio e pepe. The recipe with only a few simple ingredients can easily be found through a number of online sources.
Pick up some carnaroli rice (substitute with Arborio if needed), Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and get ready to make this delicious dish. A couple other important ingredients include plenty of freshly ground black pepper, some salt and, of course, water for boiling.
Visit the Parmigiano Reggiano Region
Those folks who have a penchant for food and travel may just be interested in taking a trip to see where it all began. In celebration of National Parmigiano Reggiano Day, hop on a plane or train and head over to the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy which borders on Tuscany. The beautiful rolling hills and enticing medieval cities provide an amazing glimpse of history. While there, take a tour of a dairy or cheese factory, whether in Parma, Modena or Bologna. It’s sure to be an incredibly educational and delicious time!
National Parmigiano Reggiano Day FAQs
Is Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan?
In the EU, “parmesan” is simply a translation that refers to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that must be made in Italy. In the US, “parmesan” may be an imitation of the original.
How is Parmigiano Reggiano made?
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is made by mixing the ingredients in copper vats. It is then cut, cooked, dried, salted and aged. 
Where is Parmigiano Reggiano made?
Parmigiano Reggiano is made in a region of Italy that includes Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantua. 
How to tell if Parmigiano Reggiano is real?
The rind of genuine Parmigiano Reggiano will have the official dotted writing that acts as a mark of origin. 
Can you freeze Parmigiano Reggiano?
It is possible to freeze Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, but it’s typically better to do this when it is grated first.