Cheese University: first exam!


How it should look: wrapping paper of my favourite "fromagier".

Let’s step back and think for a second of what we’ve seen so far. This is Cheese University after all and it’s about a comprehensive guide to French (Food Fool’s) cheese. You might think that the selection of products has been random so far – well, it wasn’t. In fact, you’ve seen one representative of all French cheese families of interest.

There’s six of them, and here’s the sum up:

  • Camembert is what Anglo-American natives would just call a “soft cheese”, I’m afraid, yet it is, in fact, a Pâte molle à croûte fleurie.
  • Beaufort is what English speakers simply call a “hard cheese” which obviously lacks poetry when you compare it to the French Pâte pressée cuite.
  • Roquefort, our proband #3, is called just a “blue cheese” in English while it is, in French, one of the splendid Pâtes persillées.
  • Miraculous Époisses from Burgundy is not just a soft cheese but a Pâte molle à croûte lavée.
  • Tiny Rocamadour is, of course, a representative of the goat cheese universe, a real Chèvre.
  • And Laguiole, finally, might be a “semi-hard cheese” in English but you’d better call it a Pâte pressée non cuite.

Never mind if you’re not able to make these distinctions – even the French aren’t really sure about them. It is necessary though to mention them here at least once (and to leave out the other two families “fresh cheese” and, even worse,

“processed cheese” like the famous la vache qui rit. The next time you dream of France as a better (food) world, please have in mind that this country stands for over one quarter of Europe’s processed cheese output, we talk about 130.000 tons of cheese merde per year!).

Good. From now on, I will just spill out the cheeses that cross my way. So please stay tuned and get a French cheese encyclopaedia step by stepand, imagine!, it’s all for free. I can’t wait to introduce you to Valençay and Neufchâtel, to Ossau-Iraty and Rigotte de Condrieu. Little superstars of the French cheese universe they are (as Yoda would say). Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will have introduced to you a hundred-fifty or so great cheeses. My French friend Olivier has said recently that I might be exaggerating… Well, the glory of French cheese culture has to be sung over and over. It simply is second to none.


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