The Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese as it is called in English is considered to be among the top cheeses by cheese connoisseurs. Today, it is produced by various producers. However, PDO designation states that for a cheese to be called as Parmesan, it has to be produced from cows grazing on fresh grass and hay. Cheeses mocking Parmigiano Reggiano are called as Parmesan or Italian hard cheese by producers to avoid legal issues. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is named after the provinces in which it is made, namely Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua. True Parmesan cheese has a hard, gritty texture and is fruity and nutty in taste. Cheeses mocking Parmesan or inferior Parmesan may have a bitter taste. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is mostly grated over pastas, used in soups and risottos. It is also eaten on its own as a snack.
According to legend, Parmigiano-Reggiano was created in the course of the Middle Ages in Bibbiano, in the province of Reggio Emilia. Its production soon spread to the Parma and Modena areas. Historical documents show that in the 13th and 14th centuries, Parmigiano was already very similar to that produced today, which suggests its origins can be traced to far earlier. Some evidence suggests that the name was used for Parmesan cheese in Italy and France in the 17th-19th century.