During the event, an online charity auction of a 21-year-old wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano – one of the oldest edible cheeses in the world – will be held. The auction will be open to anyone worldwide who would like to place a bid, as it will be hosted through the fundraising platform, Givergy, from 27th October – 6th November. Bidding and donations can be made through the following link: https://givergy.uk/parmigianoreggiano2021/.
This wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the first of its kind, as the minimum maturation period of a Parmesan wheel is 12 months, after which every individual wheel is quality-checked by a member of the Consortium. However, no maximum age has ever been set, with 24-, 36-, 40-, and 48-month Parmigiano Reggiano widely available for purchase. As every age acquires unexpected and unparalleled aromas and flavours, a 21-year-old wheel of cheese is expected to be amber straw yellow with an intense toasted smell. The aromatic analysis should highlight typical leather, underwood, truffle, and smoky notes. The cheese will probably have a special structure: dry, very crumbly, and soluble. It is an exclusive gift and a pleasant companion to be tasted with structured and meditation wines.
The cheese wheel was produced in April 2000 by the Latteria di Tabiano dairy when it was under the leadership of the late Erio Bertani. It was one of the first wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano to be awarded the prestigious “Quality of the Mountain” status by the Conva Consortium, which is responsible for the safeguarding and promotion of products from the Apennines. The wheel was then purchased by Erio Bertani himself, who kept it in his warehouse until 2018, when his wife, Susetta Sforacchi, children, and the Nazionale Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmigiano Reggiano National Team) decided to donate it to charity in his memory.
All proceeds from the auction will be donated to two solidarity projects that are close to the heart of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium: Aiutiamo il mondo di Padre Marco Canovi (“Let’s help the world by Father Marco Canovi”) and Mama Sofia, founded by Zakaria Seddiki, wife of the late ambassador to Congo, Luca Attanasio. The latter initiative is directly supported by La Forma Del Cuore (“The shape of the heart”).
Erio Bertani with the wheel.
Father Marco Canovi has dedicated his life to humanitarian work in Uganda, where he helped build Matany Hospital and its corresponding Nursing and Midwife School. He is passionate about providing education and a better quality of life for children and young people and has built both primary and secondary schools in the region. Above all, the aim of his mission is to improve agricultural conditions by excavating wells, constructing drip irrigation systems, and cultivating the land. His mission in the Karamoja region, has been to help local farmers create and prosper from their plantations of maize, vegetables, fruit, and other crops.
Proceeds from the auction donated to Father Canovi’s non-profit group will help to build a pediatric medical centre in the Apeitolim, which is already underway with construction to be completed by 2022. The money from the auction will be an invaluable method for the medical centre to train and recruit staff, as well as to purchase medical equipment.
La Forma Del Cuore is a project created by the Nazionale del Parmigiano Reggiano, an association of Parmigiano Reggiano dairies that promote the cheese in Italy and abroad, alongside the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium. The project has been associated with various humanitarian missions in Central Africa, including the Discalced Carmelites, the Sisters of the Incarnate Word in Central Africa and, beginning this year, the non-profit organization, Mama Sofia. This is run by Zakaria Seddiki, the wife of Luca Attanasio, who served as the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2017 until his brutal murder there in February 2021. The Mama Sofia organisation supports women and families in situations of serious hardship in the Congo by providing healthcare, clean water, and schoolbooks for children.
Proceeds from the auction donated to La Forma del Cuore will support the Mama Sofia Medical Centre – the first medical centre dedicated to combatting malnutrition in Boma. The centre will guarantee medical support for at least 100 children every year.
The cheese wheel will be on display at the International Cheese Festival and the World Cheese Awards, and representatives from the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium will also be present throughout, where a sampling stand will be set up for attendees to learn more about Parmigiano Reggiano.