December 16, 2008

A Cheesy Bailout

These days, there are bailouts everywhere, Italy included. While we're bailing out banks and insurers and, maybe, companies that make cars nobody wants to buy, Italy is bailing out northern Italian cheesemakers.

Thank goodness. The world would be a far less tasty place without the cheeses made in the Parma region.

Small cheesemakers in the region are struggling financially, so the Italian government is spending $65 million to buy up 200,000 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano -- the real stuff; you can't call it Parmesan if it doesn't come from Parma. The cheese will be donated to charity. Said Italy's agriculture minister, "There was a need for market intervention."Parma is a feast, for the eyes and the palate. When we were done gorging on the city's Renaissance architecture, which includes an 11th-century cathedral with a dome and frescoes by Correggio and an eye-popping octagonal baptistry of polished pink marble, we ambled down the Via Cavour in the heart of old Parma and settled in at the Al Corsaro restaurant.

The kids wolfed down the Corsaro's signature pizza, and Mike and I had pasta dishes. We took our first forkfuls and looked at each other across the table. Our mouths could not believe what our taste buds were telling us. The food was sublime. It was perfection. It was all about the cheese.

This is one bailout I fully support.