Continuing tradition

Parmigiano Reggiano Bonat: Italy’s Oldest Cheese

J.M. Towers

An aged Italian cheese with concentrated flavors that dates back to the Middle Ages and satisfies the most discerning palates.

Parmigiano Reggiano is Italy’s oldest cheese.

Parmigiano Reggiano is a unique and extraordinary cheese that has been produced for more than nine centuries. After all these years, it is still made in the same places and with the same craft techniques of the past.

Its origins date back to the Middle Ages—the mid-12th century to be precise—when in Benedictine and Cistercians monasteries of the Parma-Reggio Emilia region in northern Italy, the monks started to make a hard cheese by processing cow’s milk in large boilers.

Today, as in the past, the master cheese makers continue to produce this cheese in the traditional and authentic way using the excellent local milk to which no additives are added.

Cheese producers showcase the best samples of Parmigiano Reggiano.

The recent history of Parmigiano Reggiano involves 350 small and typical artisan cheese factories. They have been joined by another 3,500 milk producers who are recognized by strict protection laws that ensure the processing method and the highest quality used to produce cheese with DOP (PDO) for over 70 years.

A unit of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese weighs about 32 kilograms (70 lbs). Producing one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cheese requires 16 liters of milk. When we do the math, we get to the conclusion that one piece of this magnificent cheese needs more than 500 liters of the best cow’s milk. This results in a high concentration of nutrients, especially calcium and phosphorus.

The best Parmigiano Reggiano is always the oldest. It is a cheese that develops its intense organoleptic properties after a long maturity process. In fact, the finest are those that reach seven years of fermentation because time contributes to increasing the power of flavors and aromas.

If I had to highlight one Parmigiano Reggiano among all brands, I would not hesitate to underline Azienda Agricola Bonat, a family business in Basilica Nova, a bucolic small town of 3,000 inhabitants located in the province of Parma. Their cheese has received significant awards in renowned global competitions and has been recognized on several occasions as the best Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy.

Parmigiano Reggiano can only be produced with the best milk from the Parma region of Northern Italy.

The owners of this property, Giorgio Bonati and his son Gianluca, represent the fourth and fifth generation of farmers. Besides having 100 cows for extracting the milk used to make the cheese, they grow and harvest the hay to feed their animals, thereby closing a perfect circle that ends with the product marketing.

The company’s business plan allows them to care genuinely for the high quality of a cheese intended for the best palates. The proof of excellence is that a large number of three-star Michelin restaurants feature the Bonat Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on their menus.

© | 2019