Friends, it is with great sadness that I must report news of a most terrible tragedy. As you may have heard, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit Italy yesterday, north of Bologna. Already it has killed seven people and ruined many historic buildings, which is obviously awful. But now we're getting even more bad news: it's been discovered that the quake decimated the artisanal cheese stockpile that the region is famous for. No, not the cheese!
The areas hit—Bologna, Modena, and Mantova—are home to famous parmesan and grana padano cheese manufacturers. When the quake struck, it knocked over many of the racks on which the cheese is aged, affecting an estimated 400,000 wheels in all. It hurts the heart just to think about it, but the pictures are downright devastating to any dairy lover.
Cheese producer Oriano Caretti, seen above surveying the damage in his factory, explains the impact of such a massive loss:
Considering that what you see here represents the work of seven companies for two years, this means that the repercussions on the rural economy of these farms and this territory will feel it pretty badly.
While all but one of the 16 aging racks in Caretti's factory had fallen down, a lot of the wheels themselves looked okay. (Is there the equivalent of a 5-second rule for cheese wheels?) The main concern was salvaging as much as possible before mold became an issue. In total, about ten cheese storage facilities were damaged, and probably at least half the total cheese supply in the area will be lost. Huge bummer. But fortunately, Caretti and his fellow cheese producers are already looking to the future and making more cheese, mostly because, as he says, they have no choice: "Cows produce milk and it needs to be transformed." In any event, at your next meal you may want to take a little extra time to savor the parmesan on top, since it could soon be much harder to come by.