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For The Love Of Cheese, Diners Unite In Italy

Tonight was Parmigiano Night in Italy!

 

Marco Vasini/AP

“In Italy tonight, everyone’s having the same thing for dinner, and there’s no doubt that it’s going to smell terrific.

Forbes magazine food and travel writer Larry Olmsted tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden that it’s Parmigiano-Reggiano night in Italy. It’s all about the cheese — and not that stuff you buy in the green plastic canister — but the real stuff, made in the country’s world-famous Emilia-Romagna region, in the city of Parma.

An inspector checks a wheel of Reggiano cheese at the Parmigiano-Reggiano storehouse in Bibbiano, Italy. Earthquakes rocked the region, sending the cheese toppling.

An inspector checks a wheel of Reggiano cheese at the Parmigiano-Reggiano storehouse in Bibbiano, Italy. Earthquakes rocked the region, sending the cheese toppling.

Using social media and other methods to spread the word, Parmigiano-Reggiano promoters are “trying to get people all throughout Italy to eat the same meal at the same time, sort of a virtual, national sit-down dinner in people’s own homes, and to a lesser extent, restaurants,” says Olmsted. They’re calling it the biggest Italian dinner in history.

Organizers say the dinner is designed to promote the revitalization of the Parma region. Cheese producers there are still struggling because earlier this year, a series of earthquakes toppled shelves containing millions of dollars worth of the cheese, aged for two years in giant, five-story buildings.

Looking at the warehouses before the quake, you’d see “nothing but cheese as far as the eye can see.” Olmsted tells Lyden. “And the wheels are huge, like tires. They weigh 80-something pounds. Several hundred thousand of wheels of cheese fell off the shelves during the earthquake. So, long story short — a lot of cheese hit the floor.”

But it’s not just cheese the region is famous for.”

Listen to the story:  For The Love Of Cheese, Diners Unite In Italy : The Salt : NPR.

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