Thursday, April 07, 2005
Parmigiano Reggiano Creamery
Recently I was talking to a customer about the reasons American artisan cheeses--and there are some truly outstanding ones--are so much pricier than similar European cheeses.
We talked about the many USDA and local rules and regulations, frequent inspections, forms to be filled out about the origin of the milk and other products used, and the myriad other reasons that make it tough for American cheese-makers to compete, even though the import prices have to include any duties and tariffs, and transportation.
I was reminded of the last time I was in Italy and visited a maker of Parmigiano-Reggiano. This creamery made only three 80-pound wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano a day. The milk was delivered by the local dairy farmers. I missed that part, since I had gotten lost (again!!) and was a little late getting there. But the milk was flowing through open troughs to the vats where it was processed. The plant was immaculate, but we saw cheese in open draining racks, open brining vats and open storage areas.
I was particularly amused by this shot of "il patron" stirring the curds wearing his watch and with an ever-present cigar dangling about the cheese vat. Boy, would our Health Department be all over that!!
Do you think maybe we carry this health thing a bit too far in our country?