My cooking instructor in Florence must have noticed me regularly sneaking chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano off the quarter wheels that were always out, because one day, she came to me with the remains of a rind and a paring knife.
With her thumb and forefinger, she slid the knife along the length of the stenciled edge and handed me a smooth, straw-colored slice, saying: "This is the best part."
I sucked on the smooth stick of cheese like it was a hard candy, until it became soft enough to chew.
This spot--between a cheese's paste and its rind--is the window to its soul.
Wait, wait, wait.
Cheese has a soul?
You bet it does.
And if you don't believe me, then just see what omitting it from your diet does to yours.
Now, couple my undying Parmigiano devotion with my child's (whose favorite thing to pull from the shelf during her toddling years was a spiral-bound booklet from the Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano--and who once outed me for trickery when, in the interest of staying financially solvent, I tried to substitute Grana Padano), and you'll begin to grasp how many Parmigiano heels we produce.
I save them in a baggie in the fridge--or move them to the freezer in the unlikely event that our supply outpaces our use.
Others I whittle down to between a 1/4- and a 1/2-inch for spearing with a fork and toasting over an open flame.
After which everything--especially marshmallows--seems at fault for not being cheese.