Italian for "grain," referring to any of various very hard cheeses with a granular texture, like Parmigiano-Reggiano ( parmesan), which are particularly suited for grating. This special texture is the result of long aging, which is usually anywhere from 2 to 7 years, though some (rare) cheeses are ripened up to 20 years. See also cheese.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.