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  • Claudia Romeo: Parmesan cheese comes from a specific

  • region of Italy called Emilia Romagna.

  • It is also a region that was hit particularly hard

  • by the coronavirus.

  • As of April 15, 12% of Italy's confirmed cases

  • were in Emilia Romagna.

  • This put the Parmesan cheese industry

  • right at the center of the current crisis.

  • The whole country went into lockdown on March 10,

  • with only essential jobs allowed to carry on,

  • including Parmesan production.

  • I spoke to Nicola Bertinelli,

  • the president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium

  • and also the owner of a dairy,

  • to understand how the coronavirus crisis is affecting

  • the making of Italy's most iconic cheese.

  • According to Nicola, dairies are not fighting against

  • a shortage of milk or other ingredients.

  • Their biggest issue is the virus itself.

  • Claudia: To avoid a milk surplus

  • and being forced to sell it,

  • the 335 Parmesan dairies

  • have started to work together, share vats,

  • and accept another dairy's milk if its personnel is sick.

  • Some retired dairymen have been called back to work,

  • and cheese production has been extended to the evenings too.

  • Claudia: Nicola's dairy hasn't had

  • to resort to any of these measures yet.

  • But three dairies in the region

  • have had to send their milk to other dairies,

  • and one dairy has been forced to do

  • what Nicola describes as the absolute last resort

  • and sell their milk to a milk company.

  • The crisis has also caused other changes.

  • According to Nicola, Parmesan cheese makers are taking

  • measures to implement social distancing,

  • washing hands as much as possible,

  • and keeping access limited.

  • But that might not always be possible.

  • As you can see from this footage from my 2018 visit,

  • some steps of cheese making require dairymen

  • to be in close contact with each other,

  • like when 50-kilo blocks of curd like this one

  • are transferred into molds.

  • So how are they managing that

  • while keeping the environment safe?

  • Claudia: Another instance where social distancing

  • might be hard to implement

  • is when it comes to inspect the cheese

  • before it's ready to be sold as Parmigiano-Reggiano.

  • This happens after 12 months and is typically done

  • by a third-party master grader

  • who works for the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium.

  • Claudia: No matter which step of production,

  • cheese making is a job that requires

  • touching the cheese with bare hands,

  • an evergreen dilemma that perhaps now

  • has taken a whole new meaning.

  • Claudia: While this may be the biggest health crisis

  • Parmesan dairies have ever faced,

  • this is not the first time

  • they have faced difficult times.

  • In 2012, a magnitude 6 earthquake struck the region,

  • and warehouses full of Parmesan wheels

  • crashed to the ground, damaging a million wheels,

  • which at the time accounted for 30% of production.

  • That triggered a wave of solidarity

  • among the Parmesan dairies.

  • Claudia: How are Italians responding to this new crisis?

  • According to Nicola, with people confined to their homes,

  • doing more cooking and looking for comfort

  • in the foods they love,

  • the demand for Parmesan has never been so high.

Claudia Romeo: Parmesan cheese comes from a specific

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B2 parmesan claudia cheese nicola milk dairy

The World’s Best Parmesan Makers Are Banding Together To Keep Italy’s Iconic Cheese In Production

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/23
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