These days, parmesan and balsamic vinegar are pretty much household staples, or at least for those in the cooking-show-watching households anyway. I’ll be the first to admit guilt; I’ve drizzled balsamic vinegar over rocket leaves which I’m not entirely sure I like eating, and dutifully grated parmesan over my pasta as if my Italian street cred depended on it. But of course, that would be exactly the thing not to do… I should instead be ditching these imposters and going back to their true Italian roots, I should be stocking my shelves with Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Aceto Balsamico Traditionale di Modena PDO. Bit of a mouthful, bit more expensive, but a little bit goes a lot further when you are using the real deal.
Both Parmigiano Reggiano PDO and Aceto Balsamico Traditionale di Modena PDO are probably victims of their own success; their increased popularity have driven a desire for increased accessibility and as a result the parmesans and bog standard balsamics of the world have flooded our supermarket shelves. But the traditional Italian producers are fighting back and re-educating consumers. I think the proof is in the tasting. I always thought the cheese and vinegar I picked up at the supermarket, while not the best on the market, was good enough… but I soon realised what a naïve view that was.