The hard grating cheeses, typified by Italian parmesan, are called grana cheeses, referring to their grainy textures.The best of all granas is called Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is the true parmesan, aged at least two years, and is very expensive. It is imitated widely around the world, and the imitations vary from bad to very good. Another Italian grana is romano. Italian romanos are made with sheep's milk, but American versions are usually made with cow's milk. Romano is stronger and saltier than parmesan.
These cheeses are often sold already grated.This is a convenience for commercial kitchens, of course, but, unfortunately, pregrated cheese has much less flavor than freshly grated cheese.A merchant was once arrested for selling what he claimed was grated parmesan cheese but was actually grated umbrella handles. A large share of pre-grated cheese sold today resembles grated umbrella handles in flavor.
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