Many people think that Parmigiano Reggiano is just a fancy name for a Parmesan cheese. However, Parmesan cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese are not the same.
So, what is the difference between Parmesan Cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano? The difference between these cheeses is that Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is the real deal, and Parmesan cheese is an imitation of the real Parmigiano Reggiano.
According to the trademark laws in Italy, the cheese cannot be called “Parmigiano Reggiano” unless it’s made in Italy according to a specific recipe. Parmigiano Reggiano is always made in Italy, while the Parmesan cheese can be made anywhere else – there are no restrictions on the name “Parmesan”. Parmesan cheese is produced to try to duplicate the flavor of “Parmigiano Reggiano”.
If the cheese is labeled “Parmesan”, it is the imitation version of “Parmigiano Reggiano” and usually has inferior taste. The powdered Parmesan sold in the large spice jars give the Parmesan cheese a bad name :) If you taste the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Parmesan cheese side by side, you’ll most definitely notice the difference.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is always more expensive than Parmesan cheese. The money used to buy the real thing is the money well spent – Parmigiano Reggiano will really enhance the food that you sprinkle it on. Once you taste the real Parmigiano Reggiano, you’ll never want to go back to the plain Parmesan.