Parmesan (known in the country of its origin as “Parmigiano-Reggiano”) is one of the most popular Italian cheeses of all time, with history that reaches back all the way to the 13th and 14th century when Parmigiano was popular in regions of , Reggio Emilia, Parma and Modena. Today, modern Parmigiano-Reggiano is created in two mode regions of Italy, namely Bologna and Mantua, with strict government oversight that allows only cheeses created in these five provinces to receive official name of Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is then exported to the world as Parmesan cheese. Around the world however, name Parmesan is not regulated, which means that many “imitations” of the original cheese are sold under presence that they have same or similar recipe as famous Italian hard cheese.
According to historians and local legends, first production of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese was closely connected with the commune of Bibbiano which is located in the province of Reggio Emilia. From there, this hard cheese spread to the neighboring provinces of Parma and Modena, and with popularity enabling it to reach fame across entire Italy by 13th and 14th centuries. Many historical records describe Parmesan cheese, with some of the earliest mentions being made in Giovanni Boccaccio’s collection of novellas “The Decameron” and many other literary and government texts of that time. Its presence outside of Italy can be traced to the much smaller number of documents, most notably to the writings that covered Great Fire of London of 1666 that mentioned lost goods, among them Parmesan cheese wheels.
Today, production of Parmigiano-Reggiano is still strong in Italy, with certified home and industrial manufactures making it utilizing traditional recipes. Each year, producers of Parmesan are gathered together to attend traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano festival in Modena.
All cheeses made using Parmigiano-Reggiano basic recipe that are produced outside of the Italy bear the name of “parmesan”, but when sold in Europe many are obliged to change the name to comply with European laws.