Watching Cheesemongers Crack A Massive Wheel Of Parmesan Is Better Than ASMR

Unlike certain American imitators, authentic Parmesan cheese doesn't come from a green shaker: It comes in the form of massive wheels weighing close to 100 pounds each, shipped across the ocean from one specific region in Northern Italy. And once the behemoth arrives in a cheese shop, there's only one way to access the savory goodness inside: You've got to crack the wheel open — and it's amazing to watch.

First, a cheesemonger scores the rind across the top and bottom and down the sides, where the wheel will eventually separate. Then, they wedge in special Parmesan knives, spaced a couple inches apart. By shimmying the knives — which look like small daggers — side-to-side, they push deeper into the cheese and force it to separate. Then, the monger will flip the wheel and repeat the process on the other side.

Eventually, the cracks in the wheel meet in the middle, and — boom! Both halves fall backward onto the counter, exposing their fresh, craggy faces.

Videos of food ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, are all the rage, from artful bruschetta TikTok videos to Padma Lakshmi's crunchy corndog video. And so are cheese-cracking videos, especially on TikTok — and we think those are just as satisfying to watch. But this labor-intensive process isn't just for looks: Cracking massive wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano in half is actually important to the quality of cheese itself.

Why are wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cracked open in the first place?

Cracking open wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano is a big deal. TikTokers love it, and Whole Foods even once became embroiled in a Guinness World Record battle to see who could crack the most wheels simultaneously.


Parmigiano Reggiano cracking the whole wheel must watch the eanding.#fypシ #cheese #yummy satisfying.

♬ original sound – user9273843400995

But besides the fun, cracking open wheels of Parmesan actually helps the cheese taste better. The structure of a cheese wheel is vital to making sure it matures properly, and by letting the cheese crack open organically, a cheesemonger preserves the natural curd structure of the individual wheel. If you're ever at your local cheese shop when this process is taking place, see if they'll give you a sample right when the wheel is cracked. At this point, moisture and flavorful fat remain trapped in the cheese, so the salty, savory Parmigiano-Reggiano will be at its tastiest. 

And if you want to bring things to the next level, take a page from Stanley Tucci's playbook: The actor has his own cheese wheel he tosses pasta in. He even cracked it open himself — now that's the ASMR we want to watch next.