Welcome ladies and gentleman to the main event of the week! In the Italian cheese category of Culinary Boxing here at Chef’s Mandala, we have weighing in at 60 pounds from the Emilia Romagna, Italy, please welcome Grana Padano! His opponent, weighing in at 84 pounds from Parma, Italy, please welcome Parmesan Reggiano!
LET’S GET READY TO RRRRR…….HAVE A SPIRITED DEBATE ON FOOD!!!
In the Red Corner – GRANA PADANO
Today’s challenger Grana Padano is famous back home for sourcing milk from some of the same farmers that supply the champ. While Grana is Italian for “grainy”, our challenger is similar to the Parm. Regg. in both taste and texture. But Grana is much more affordable by the pound! Unlike Parmesan Reggiano, the milk for our challenger can be sourced over a much larger area, allowing for more milk production. Critics point out that Grana Padano is milder and lacks the depth and sophistication of flavor that characterizes Parm. Regg. Italian cheese after all is second only to pasta in the fanaticism it inspires in local formaggio lovers. Fans of Grana point out that Reggiano is often blended with Grana Padano when served pre-grated in restaurants. So how do you know which cheese is really being sprinkled over your pasta?
In the Blue Corner – PARMESAN REGGIANO
The current undefeated champion in the heavyweight dairy division, Parmesan Reggiano is a force with which to be reckoned. He has been called the king of all cheese, and with good reason. There is so much demand that a separate stock exchange exists solely for the trading of these giant wheels. Banks will accept wheels of Parm. Regg. as collateral on bank loans. Our champ is so expensive that when an earthquake struck northern Italy in 2012, 300,000 wheels were damaged almost bankrupting countless cheese makers. Fans of the champ point out that Grana is made entirely from partially skimmed milk, while Parmesan “Il Grande Formaggio”Reggiano is made from both whole and skim milk. Critics of Parm. Regg. claim that unless you’re an expert, most people (a.k.a. non-Italians) won’t taste much of a difference between the two.
- The Play-By-Play
While these two Italian cheeses might look similar, the screaming fans on both sides of the ring seem to know the difference! Both of these heavyweights have tatooed their names all over their bodies. They look like they were attacked by some drug-crazed dot matrix printer.
AND THE WINNER IS….
This fight is a close one. When it comes to younger cheeses, Grana Padano is the winner. Parmesan Reggiano’s forte really becomes apparent the older he gets. Once Parm. Regg. crosses the 20 month mark though, he takes the lead. Furthermore, the older Reggiano gets, the more it kicks Grana’s ass (but for a price)!