|Marking the Grana Padano|
It a gastronomical product protected by the quality label DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) and it is very typical of northern Italian regions like Lombardy but also Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Veneto, Trentino - Alto Adige. The differences between the Grana and the Parmigiano are mainly that the first is usually lightier than the latter, that has more fats.
The Parmigiano Reggiano also have a longer period of ripening.
|Parmigiano Reggiano ripening|
Furthermore, the Grana appears to be more compact and dense, while the Parmigiano, because of the longer ripening period, is dryer and looks somewhat more flaky. Its history is quite ancient and there are lots of different versions of the origins of this delicious cheese.
Let's start! After the Year 1000, which everyone feared would be the the last one, there was a huge monastical renaissance all over Europe. Those monasteries lived of farming and developed a superior knowledge in the cultivation of lands. They were also capable of reclaim the swamp lands in the Pianura Padana, the alluvional plain in northern Italy. In every corner of the northern part of the country so moks patiently worked decade after decade to make of this plain a rich agricultural land. And, as everyone can see nowadays, they succeed! With the innovative technique of the marcite, they succeed in controlling the excess of water in the plain, allowing the farmers to obtain a surplus of corn to feed the cows they breeded. This lead to an excess of milk, and this posed a problem: how can they conserve it properly? They decided to create a cheese to conserve it easily.
|The Grana Padano|
According to some, the first Grana cheese would have been the Lodigiano, also said the Granone. The Lodigiano, that takes its name from the medieval city of Lodi, some 30 km south east of Milan, was a peculiar cheese, with a spicy flavour and light blue veins running through it. A sort of tear used to drop from it when it was cut. Unluckily, the production of this ancient cheese stopped in the 1970s, and only after the 2000s the production was restarted. This new Granone, even if it may be different from the ancient one (we cannot compare them) is anyway very, very good!
|The Granone cheese, also called Lodigiano|
|The "Ciribiciaccola" belfry, symbol of Chiaravalle|
The texture of Grana is softer and less granulous that the Parmigiano, and makes it ideal as an appetizer or antipasto. If you want it as an aperitivo, eat it with bubbles! We would suggest you to drink a Prosecco sparkling wine with the Grana Padano. Another way of eating it is the so called "raspadura", very typical of Lodi, but also in Pavia or Cremona. Just scrape off the upper part of your Grana with a particular knife, and you'll obtain a thin layer of Grana Padano, so delicate and tasty. This would be impossible to obtain with a Parmigiano Reggiano.
It is impressive to think that you need 15 liters of milk to obtain just a kilogram of Grana Padano cheese, and every wheel of Grana weights from 24 to 40 kgs!
The Grana Padano must be left ripening from 9 to 20 months.
Well, that's it! Next step is to go out finding your wheel of Grana Padano DOP (always choose the original, do not trust Parmesan or so, they're just low quality tacky imitations!)
Eat it as you want, grated on your spaghetti (we always suggest the pasta from Gragnano), in little cubes or in the traditional raspadura way!
|The raspadura from Grana Padano|
Enjoy your life, enjoy it with cheeses!