This is the story of a piece of Parmesan, which crossed the ocean from Milan and arrived in an American fridge.
The first problem that came out this summer, before I left for my experience of three months in the USA, was how to find a gift for a family of complete strangers. After much useless research, I finally bought a common piece of Parmesan Cheese, hoping that they would appreciate it on their “spaghetti with tomato sauce”.
That’s how the journey of Parmy the Parmesan started. He lived in my refrigerator for about two weeks and during this period he made good friends. His special confidant was the Pecorino Cheese, but he had a good relationship also with the tomatoes and the eggs. The Italian fridge was usually empty, but one day Mom made the shopping and the Refrigerator Habitat became more various and happy. Aside from a few exception, there was a lot of healthy food, such as fruit, vegetables, legums, meat, fish, eggs, milk and yogurt: in my family Parmy learnt that is important to have a varied diet.
But he was a little upset because sometimes we wasted food: I admit that it usually happens when we forget to check the expiry date of a product or in case we don’t seal the food in plastic bags, so it gets moldy. I know that we should be more careful.
One day he had to leave. It was hard to say goodbye to his companions, but he was excited to go to the USA. A quite long journey, for a piece of Parmesan. Locked in the airplane hold, unfortunately the piece of cheese didn’t have the opportunity to admire the gorgeous landscape from the window like me. But as soon as we arrived in our new house in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I extracted him from my suitcase so he could explore the New World: an American Refrigerator. Parmy and I were shocked by its huge dimensions: not only the fridge was big, but also the boxes, the bottles and the cans.
I was exhausted for the jet lag and for the fifteen-hour journey, so I went to sleep while the Parmesan had the time to know his new house mates. The first thing that he noticed were the three hudge bottles of milk. Parmy had never met a Gallon (about 4 litres) container and he was afraid of them. He was trying to understand how a family of three people could drink a gallon of Cow milk, another one of Almond milk and one of Chocolate-flavoured Soya milk, before they all turned sour. Then he found out that the sell-by labels of American food are much longer than the Italian, so probably the milk that he met in Milan was fresher.
Parmy’s accomodation wasn’t very comfortable because, although the fridge was enormous, he was pressed by a lot of food. Many Americans have the obsession of keeping the fridge full, but they forgot the old products that are contained, so in the end they have to throw them away.
My dear piece of healthy cheese was surrounded by Cheddar cheese, sour cream, surrogated Mozzarella and other junk food like Peanut Butter, fat cookies and hot dogs. In addition, the freezer was as big as the fridge! In Italy nobody would freeze bananas, blueberries and strawberries. There were also some frozen hamburgers, a box of chicken-wings, some ice-cream, an apple pie, a few pineapple pizzas, some pasta with broccoli and a lot of other stuff.
Parmy was not a very open-minded peace of cheese and at the beginning he didn’t get on very well with the new colleagues. But then he discovered that Americans are crazy but friendly and he made good friends with them.
That was before I used it as an ingredient for my risotto with mushrooms.
by Linda Del Rosso, Liceo Classico Carducci, Milano