Parmigiano-Reggiano

3 Myths About Parmesan

Cravero Parmigiano-Reggiano Raise your hand if trying to understand the Parmesan vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano debate hurts your brain. Which one is better? Are they the same? Does it matter at all?

It does matter, if you want it to. There's that old saying, You are what you eat. If that's the sort of daily mantra you like to repeat to yourself, and if munching on the most delicious food is your thing, than you're going to want to know how and why parmesan is quite different from Parmigiano-Reggiano. Let's discuss a few myths:

1. The word parmesan means Parmigiano-Reggiano This is true! Parmesan is the English translation of Italy's Parmigiano-Reggiano. However, this doesn't mean that products designated parmesan are made in the same way or of the same quality. The United States has a stinky little history of not following international laws for naming. Much like Champagne and Kobe Beef, Parmigiano-Reggiano must be made to very specific specifications, and under specific circumstances, before it can be christened with that name. Very simply, the rules are: Parmigiano must be made with only three ingredients. Those ingredients are milk made in the Parma/Reggio region of Italy, salt, and animal rennet. It seems so simple, but check the back of the next bag of grated parmesan you buy. If it contains cellulose powder, potassium sorbate, or other ingredients like that, then it's an imposter. No Parmigiano for you.

2. All versions of Parmigiano-Reggiano (real or otherwise) tend to be dry and best for cooking Completely false. If you're seeking out true Parmigiano, you'll find that it's actually wonderful eaten on its own. Cravero Parmigiano-Reggiano (the one we sell at our shops) is particularly succulent, with sweet notes of caramel and cherry. Giorgio Cravero--the man who selects and ages each wheel at Cravero in Bra, Italy--prefers his Parmigiano to have intentional sweetness and moisture. Thank goodness! Because it's lovely and worthy of a spot on your cheese board. Skip the round green shaker of grainy parmesan in favor of a Parmigiano you can actually taste.

3. All versions of Parmigiano-Reggiano are fatty and bad for you, just like most cheeses Oh no. No no no. So long as you avoid the bastardized versions of this cheese that contain anything other than milk, salt, and rennet, you're consuming something good for you. The concentration of pure milk in Parmigiano's paste means it's full of protein, calcium, and phosphorous and is free of additives and preservatives. True Parmigiano is so uniquely nutritious that it's been known to be a staple with astronauts on space missions. So take that on your next portage to the boundary waters, hipsters!

[images via Cravero]

3 Ways To Get More Vitamin D

sunshine and pines Here's the funny thing about that happy-making nutrient called Vitamin D: It's both a vitamin and a hormone your body produces when exposed to sunlight. That's a pretty rad dual status to have, but it also means that when it's too snowy and cold to bike to work or sunbathe, humans must turn to eating their Vitamin D. Of course, few foods are rich in the stuff, which is why lots of breakfast cereals say "Fortified!" on the box. D's a slippery little vitamin to catch. And the negative effects of a Vitamin D deficiency on the heart, bone health, and more are being studied all the time (gory details here).

So how are adult people supposed to scrounge up the recommended 600 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D a day? A united front of several tactics is probably best, from making the effort to stroll outside for 10 minutes every few days to swallowing supplements. But let's talk about the edible tactics right now, because that's the most fun.

Happily, the foods that do naturally contain Vitamin D are the best foods. They're rich in fat and totally classy, giving you a great excuse to dab your mouth with linen napkins instead of paper towels for an evening. Check it out:

Oily Fishes Salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring (pickled herring)! These fatty fishes are the biggest D hitters around, sometimes wielding over 90 percent of the recommended daily dosage for adults. Grab a salmon filet at Coastal Seafoods, a tin of lovely Ortiz Spanish sardines harvested off the coast of Galicia, or some melty line-caught white tuna (you'll never go back to StarKist, promise) from our shop.

Japanese Food Because Japanese cuisine is the master at combining ultra-savory individual ingredients, three of which happen to be fat with Vitamin D: caviar, tofu, and mushrooms. Get your deficient butt to Kyatchi or Origami in Minneapolis and tuck into some salmon roe, deep-fried tofu, or a bowl of hot udon noodles with mushrooms. Maitake mushrooms alone will hand you 131 percent of your daily D, and those succulent beads of caviar will provide you with 20 percent. They also pop in your mouth like salty Gushers, so that's a bonus.

Cheese and Butter And of course, a Vitamin D deficiency is an excellent opportunity for a fondue of melty Alpine-style cheeses like Comté, Appenzeller, and Gruyère. Or, it's a reason to add a little extra Cravero Parmigiano-Reggiano and another pat of butter to morning eggs (also great for Vitamin D!). OR, an excuse to have all of your friends over for a giant, sprawling cheese tasting with lots of wine (which is apparently good for the heart) and mischief.

Happy Supplementing, buddies.