I hate milk. I eschew it in all
forms. I diligently scrape away each speck of whipped cream that threatens
to touch any dessert of mine.
But cheeses ah thats another story . . . and in Italian,
cheese is formaggio.
I thought I knew all about cheeses, then last year I discovered Reggiana
Parmigiana. This melodiously named cheese has an aroma that can only
hint of its bold complex flavor and texture. A mediocre plate of pasta
busts into song when a generous pinch of two of reggiana is added to
it. Onion soup acquires a new dimension in flavor. The perfect topping
for any dish you ever added cheese to. I tell you, its expensive
but well worth it.
Members of our family, consisting of avowed cheese lovers, are required
to whistle while they grate. Lest they be accused of biting off a scrumptious
For the ultimate Reggiana, look for the word stravecchio on the label.
These are three years old and, stravecchione, four years old, are even
tastier. Impossible to go back to any mericana cheeses
after tasting these!
My all time favorite is Italian provolone. Not that mild, insipid provolone
that could just as easily pass for the flavorless goo called American
Processed Cheese. (What is that? Its as bad as American bread
a loaf of which you can scrunch and shove into a large thimble.)
Nah, the cheeses I love have Character. Flavor. Aroma. Zest. Sharp,
aged pungent provolone. Almost as addictive as chocolate. I love it
so much that my mother when she lived in NJ knew she would
absolutely please me by mailing me six or eight chunks every Christmas.
Always a cherished treat, as it was unavailable where I live. I always
hid at least one chunk for me alone no sharing. I even wrote
a poem (in Italian) about my yearly gift of provolone! (You can have
a copy if you ask nicely).
Feta is great, the crumbly blue cheeses are wonderful. But lip-smacking
provolone is in a class all by itself. But provolone is the star of
an antipasto, ummmm yum. Nibbled is best. Or grated, or melted for a
topping on otherwise uninteresting dishes.