There has never been a better assortment of cheeses than there are today, with an explosion of high-quality artisanal cheesemakers and craft dairies springing up around the world. This makes it even more impressive that most people in the cheese industry look up to one particular variety as the pinnacle of success – hence its nickname, “The King of Cheeses.”

The crown in question belongs to Parmigiano-Reggiano, a delicacy which for eight centuries has been made almost exactly the same way, under extremely strict standards, using only the milk of cows raised under equally strict standards. These predate the famous Bavarian Beer Purity rules, often called the world’s first food purity law, as well as the rules for making Champagne. This makes sense, because in one important way Parmigiano-Reggiano varies greatly from most other geographically defined and tightly regulated artisanal foodstuffs – its quality and taste are far more consistent.