The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat Parmigiano Reggiano. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

Parmigiano Reggiano

What Parmigiano Reggiano etiquette is

Parmigiano Reggiano etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat Parmigiano Reggiano. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow Parmigiano Reggiano etiquette to serve it to your guests appropriately.

If you are a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy it.

What you should know about Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano is an Italian hard cheese. Only a limited area in North Italy can produce it. Mostly in the region of Emilia Romagna, south of river Po. The provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, and Mantua. 

Parmigiano Reggiano is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. It goes through an aging process that lasts for at least 12 months. It has a granular texture and it is dark or golden yellow in color. 

How To Serve And Eat Parmigiano Reggiano. The Top Etiquette Tips. 
How to cook Parmigiano Reggiano. Best way to serve it. Parmigiano Reggiano wine and food pairings.

Etiquette tips to serve and eat Parmigiano Reggiano

1) How to store Parmigiano Reggiano

Only a full wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano can last long out of the fridge. 

You can keep an unopened chunk of Parmigiano out of the fridge. Store it in a cool place. Away from direct light and sources of heat. However, do not keep it out longer than 3 to 5 days. Avoid storing it outside if the temperature is above 24°C (75°F).

After opening it, you should keep Parmigiano Reggiano in the fridge. Wrap it in plastic. Or store it in a sealed container. An unopened chunk can last up to 7 to 9 months in the fridge. After opening it, you should store it for up to 1 or 2 months.

Store grated Parmigiano in the fridge. Do not keep it longer than 1 or 2 weeks. If its color starts to darken, consume it immediately. 

You can store Parmigiano Reggiano in the freezer. If unopened, it can last up to 9 months to a year. If grated, it can last up to 2 to 4 months. 

Store dishes with cooked Parmigiano in the fridge. They can last between 3 and 5 days. 

2) How to clean Parmigiano Reggiano

You do not need to wash Parmigiano. 

Its crust is edible. However, it is too hard to eat. You can remove the crust before serving Parmigiano. 

If you use the crust for cooking, wash it quickly under running water. 

3) How to cook Parmigiano Reggiano

It is common to grate Parmigiano Reggiano over dishes. Pasta. Rice and risotto. Soups. Salads. Flans and baked dishes. Add grated Parmigiano to dishes immediately before serving. Alternatively, allow guests to add it to their liking directly at the table. 

If you bake dishes with Parmigiano, there is no minimum recommended temperature. However, the cheese melts best above 120°C (248°F).

You can use the crust to cook. It is common to use crusts to add flavor to soups, broths, or sauces. After cooking, remove the crusts before serving.

4) How to serve & present Parmigiano Reggiano

Serve Parmigiano at room temperature. Take it out of the fridge at least 1 or 2 hours before serving. 

Parmigiano is perfect as an appetizer. It is common as a snack during pre-meal drinks. 

Perhaps the most elegant way to present it is in a large, intact section of a wheel. Such as a quarter or half a wheel. Serve it with a parmesan knife. Then, guests can help themselves and cut chunks off the main block. Another option is to serve Parmigiano already cut into chunks. 

If you serve it grated, present it in a small cup or dedicated container. Present it with a teaspoon, so guests can add it to dishes to their liking.

You can include Parmigiano Reggiano in a cheese platter, served before dessert. It is best to arrange cheese in order, from the mildest to the strongest. Parmigiano Reggiano is usually one of the strongest, due to its aging, strong flavor, and texture. 

Before serving Parmigiano Reggiano, make sure it has not turned bad. The color should not have darkened. It should not look moldy, or smell bad.

5) Food and wine to pair Parmigiano Reggiano with

Parmigiano Reggiano goes well with many dishes. Pasta. Rice and risotto. Pizza. Soup. Broth. 

You can add it to baked vegetables, flans, savory pies, and salads.

It goes well with eggs or meat. It is common to add Parmigiano Reggiano to raw or cured meat. Such as carpaccio or Bresaola. Adding it to fish recipes is not common, but not inappropriate.   

Parmigiano pairs well with jams and honey. It tastes great with a few drops of Balsamic vinegar. You can pair it with fruit too. Apples. Pears. Grapes. Strawberries. It goes well with nuts, such as walnuts and hazelnuts.

Parmigiano Reggiano calls for bold wines. Sparkling wine, such as Champagne, Prosecco, or Lambrusco. White wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer. Red wine, such as Pinot Noir, Chianti, Barbera, or Barolo.

6) How to eat Parmigiano Reggiano

The rind is edible but too hard to eat. Discard it or leave it on the serving dish.

Place a few chunks of Parmigiano on your plate. Break them into smaller bite-sized chunks. Eat it by bringing one bite-size chunk to your mouth at a time. 

Eat Parmigiano with your fingers. You should not eat Parmigiano Reggiano with a fork and knife due to its granular texture.

When Parmigiano is served grated, you can add it to your dish. Use a serving teaspoon or fork to add it. It is not polite to add a large quantity. Do not add more than 2 or 3 spoons.

parmigiano reggiano etiquette mistakes

Parmigiano Reggiano etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst Parmigiano Reggiano etiquette mistakes. 

  • 9/10. Serving spoiled Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • 7/10. Eating Parmigiano Reggiano with a fork and a knife.
  • 5/10. Adding a large quantity of grated cheese to a dish.

Additional information for properly serving Parmigiano Reggiano

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Parmigiano Reggiano contains about 430 calories per 100 grams. One teaspoon is usually 5 grams and contains 22 calories. An average chunk is around 20 grams and contains 86 calories.

How to buy the best Parmigiano Reggiano

A crucial factor in Parmigiano Reggiano etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Season and availability 

Parmigiano Reggiano is available all year round.

Choose the best

Parmigiano Reggiano must display a DOP (denominazione di origine protetta) seal. DOP is the Italian certification that guarantees the quality and the production method of the cheese.

Alternatives to Parmigiano Reggiano

The most common substitutes for Parmigiano Reggiano are Grana Padano or Pecorino.