Riddle me this Italian food fact – The outside is strong but the inside is delicate and is entered by a knife the opens rather than cuts. The King of Italian cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, requires a specific knife to open and release the sharp yet rich and delicate flavor of this historical cheese from Northern Italy. First created in the 12th century by the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Chiaravalle near Milan in Lombardy, Parmiagiano Reggiano is known as a Grana (grainy) cheese, a classification that refers to its flaky and granular texture and because of this is best opened rather than cut into and served in flakes or bite size nuggets.
To do this you need a special type of knife (a scagliatore) with a specific blade; short, pointed and almond shape. The shape is designed not to cut but to open, highlighting the internal structure and the natural grain of the cheese. First, with the tip of a knife to score the surface crust of the massive wheel, impressive in size and weight (typically 18 inches in diameter, about 8 inches high, weighing about 85 pounds) then with two knives used as wedges to open the shape into two halves. Releasing the aroma and sweet grassy flavors of the Po River Valley and the mastery of the caseificio. Cheese stamped with the words “Parmigiano-Reggiano” into the rind of every wheel by members of the Consorzio del Formaggio that guarantees the distinctive qualities of this great Italian cheese.
*the Italian word scagliato means flake, chip, sliver, scale