Food History is a resource for anybody interested in food history. Articles exploring various issues of food history will be featured regularly. Learning food history means that cultural study which involves multidisciplinary approaches from economics, sociology and demography, and even literature.

Friday, September 12, 2014

History of Parmesan cheese

Parmesan is probably the most famous of all Italian cheeses. The history of Parmesan cheese dates back to the twelfth century during Romans times, when Italy’s Po River Valley was developed by Benedictine monasteries and later joined by Cistercian monks.

The Benedictine order was founded in central Italy in the sixth century and in the orderly and controlled environment of the monasteries, they made many agricultural advancements throughout the Middle Ages. 

During twelfth century the pastures of Emilia and Lombardy were carpeted with clover and lucerne, a delicious grassy with perky blue blooms. Both quickly fattened cows and were credited with increasing the volume of milk. They were important in the production of Parmesan.

Written records and literature from the fourteen century onward refer to grated Parmesan cheese, cheese that was already in wide demand abroad by the fourteen century.

Parmesan became the stuff of legend renowned for its taste and adaptability. King Henry VIII once received some top-flight Parmesan as a gift from Pope Julius II to secure his aid in a war against France. 

Bartolommeo Scappi, in 1570 reports that menus for the papal court regularly contain thick slices Parmesan cheese. Grated Parmesan has in fact become de rigueur for dressing pasta, mixed for those who can afford it – with costly spices, primarily sugar and cinnamon.
History of Parmesan cheese