How to Eat Parmesan Like an Italian

Last week I introduced you to Parmigiano-Reggiano and my experience at the cheesiest place on earth. I wrote about how it is produced, what it’s made of, even told you how to recognize real parmesan from the fake stuff. This week, I’m going to show you how versatile Parmigiano-Reggiano really is, and how you can eat and enjoy one of the world’s oldest and richest cheese!

In Chunks with Traditional Balsamico

The first thing I learned when I arrived in Bologna was how to dress my Italian cheese – with balsamic! Not just any balsamic but with Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. A small bottle of the authentic stuff will run you about 40 euros but the taste is so worth it. It’s not balsamic vinegar. It’s made from cooked grapes and grape juice then aged for at least 12 years! The quality is much more silky and richer than the store-bought kind you use to dress salad. Parmigiano-Reggiano that’s been aged for 24 months goes so well with it. It’s full of flavour and breaks easily into chunks. In the BlogVille house we ate our cheese with balsamico everyday!

A small bottle of traditional balsamic is about 40 euros!


Parmigiano-Reggiano con balsamico. Mmmm…


Grated as a Condiment

Parmigiano-Reggiano is the longest aged cheese in the world. It can age up to 36 months. The texture is the driest and crumblier than younger cheeses which makes it ideal for grating over pasta and meat. I even add it to comfort dishes like my Sicilian Arancini.

Grated parmiggiano-reggiano on spinach fettucine


Parmigiano-Reggiano is the longest aged cheese in the world


As an Aperitivo

Aperitivo is a popular time of day when Italians get together to socialize, enjoy pre-dinner drinks and nibble on light foods to help open up the digestive system before a big meal. Italians often combine it with grilled vegetables or cured meats.

Cheese aperitivo


This cheese is so good it doesn’t need any dressing or accompaniment! You can eat it right out of the packaging. Italians will tell you, you should always eat the hardened outer layer. This part of the cheese often gets left behind but Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese producers say it’s just as nutritional as the inside. There is no treatment and no colouring.

Aged 24 months


I like the youngest aged Parmigiano-Reggiano at 12 months. I compare it to mozzarella – it tasted sweet, soft, and so milky.

Parmigiano-Reggiano aged 12 months


Parmigiano-Reggiano makes everything taste better! If you’ve never tasted this cheese before I recommend sampling it from youngest to oldest so you can gradually prepare your palates. It can be a strong cheese if you’re not used to it but it tastes delicious no matter which way you use it!

If you want to know what to look for when buying real parmesan cheese (not the fake stuff) check out my post from last week.


I was a guest of Emilia-Romagna and the BlogVille house in Bologna where I learned to eat, live, and feel like a local.


More in this series:

Video: Making Gelato at Gelato University
The Oldest Wine Bar in the World
The Cheesiest Place on Earth
To Imola with Wine
The Medieval Town of Ferrara
Other Leaning Tower of Italy
The Culture Behind Italian Gelato
Porticos of Bologna
Instagramming Bologna