Cheese ASMR: Cheesemongers Crack Open Massive Wheel of Parmesan
There's a reason some call Parmigiano Reggiano the king of cheese, it's a behemoth beast! The cheese is aged in massive 80 pound wheels, which must be cracked carefully by hand to preserve the cheese's integrity. After it's cracked in half, it can be divided into manageable pieces to be sold to cheese lovers who eat it with anything and everything!
But how do you crack into a wheel of flakey Parmigiano without damaging the precious goods?
First, a cheesemonger scores the rind across the top and bottom and down the sides, where the wheel will eventually separate. Then, they wedge in special Parmesan knives, spaced a couple inches apart. By shimmying the knives - which look like small daggers - side-to-side, they push deeper into the cheese and force it to separate. Then, the monger will flip the wheel and repeat the process on the other side.
Eventually, the cracks in the wheel meet in the middle and both halves fall onto the counter, exposing their fresh, delicious faces.
Videos of food ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, are all the rage on the internet - And so are cheese-cracking videos. But this labor-intensive process isn't just for looks... Cracking massive wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano in half is actually important to the quality of cheese itself.
Why are wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cracked open in the first place?
Other than it being an overall fun thing to do, cracking open wheels of Parmesan actually helps the cheese taste better. The structure of a cheese wheel is vital to making sure it matures properly, and by letting the cheese crack open organically, a cheesemonger preserves the natural curd structure of the wheel. If you ever get the chance to watch this process at your local cheese shop, see if they'll give you a sample right when the wheel is cracked, it will be the most delicious Parmigiano-Reggiano you'll ever have!