By Stefano Rellandini
It all started one night as I looked for some Parmesan cheese to add to my pasta at home. I wondered what the situation was two weeks after an earthquake struck the area of Emilia, the home of Parmesan cheese. After dinner I searched online for some news on the subject and found a lovely story about a team of firefighters who went to the affected areas to help recover the damaged cheese.
Around Finale Emilia, the epicenter of the latest earthquake, there are many factories producing Parmesan which, alongside agriculture, is the core business of the region.
When I arrived at the factory I saw that the situation remained difficult for the owner as all the cheese lay on the ground or had collapsed on the counter. Firefighters were constantly working to remove the cheese. Looking around the warehouse I wondered why the farmers had waited for the special team of firefighters to remove the cheese and not used local volunteers instead.
I then understood why. The team comes from the mountainous region where they do a lot of climbing and know how to work on greasy and slippery surfaces. Even walking on the ground in the warehouse was almost impossible as the 24-month-old cheese was so greasy.
The firefighters took care of the Parmesan cheese, almost as if they were helping a person during an earthquake. They knew that there wasn’t much time to lose. As the cheese was badly damaged they needed to work quickly and securely to do the job.