"the weekly milk run to Parma"

In engineering and aeronautics, a “milk run” referred to a routine and uneventful flight, especially if it happened to occur on what would otherwise be a dangerous mission. The phrase evoked the regular and safe delivery rounds of a milkman, back in the days when dairies delivered customers’ fresh milk to their door.

The city of Parma lies in the north-central Italian region of Emilia-Romagna and is known for its ham and cheese. A fictionalized version of the city turns up in the title and plot of Stendhal’s novel The Charterhouse of Parma. (Note also the “Parmesan” reference on page 21.)