Question: Parmesan vs Parmigiano
Due to Italian D.O.C.
laws that protect the names and recipes of certain cheeses, a cheese cannot be called Parmigiano-Reggiano unless it is made using a specific recipe and production method within the provinces of Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Modena, and specific regions in the provinces of Bologna and Mantua. The D.O.C laws are meant to preserve the integrity of traditional cheeses by insuring the flavor and quality. Therefore, any cheese made outside of these regions with a slightly different recipe or production method cannot be called Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Parmesan is often thought of as an English version of the word Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it goes deeper than that. If a cheese is labeled as Parmesan, it is also a cheese that imitates the recipe for Parmigiano-Reggiano, but is made without following the D.O.C. laws. Typically, a cheese labeled as "parmesan" has not been made in Italy. Within Italy, cheeses that imitate Parmigiano-Reggiano are called Grana, which means "granular" and refers to the texture. An example is the cheese Grana Padano.