There’s something about the cheeses of France that seduces and entices all cheese lovers. It doesn’t matter that other countries produce delicious cheeses, more cheeses, different cheeses. French cheese has that certain je ne sais quoi.
Why French cheese is so special
Take Camembert for example, or Brie… or Reblochon, Munster, Maroilles, Comte, Roquefort – the list is seemingly endless.
Just what it is about French cheese is hard to put your finger on. It’s a combination of history and heritage, legends and love, the fact that it’s made with raw milk sometimes (banned in some countries), and small bugs (Mimolette). It might be dipped in ash or it might be covered in mould. It may be a distinctive shape or you can only buy it at certain times of the year.
French cheese is authentic. “It’s real life” someone once said.
When you tuck into that gooey Camembert from Normandy, you might not know it but it’s been enjoyed by cheese lovers for centuries. Well obviously not that precise piece you’re about to put away, but Camembert as we know it has been around since the 1791. It was invented by Marie Harel after she was given some production advice by a priest from Brie!
And as for pungent Roquefort, well apparently even Julius Caesar liked it when he came to France in the first century BC. The great Emperor Charlemagne was also fan, as well as French King Charles VI who in 1411 decreed it could only be aged in certain caves in Roquefort. And it’s still kept there to mature to this day.
The smelliest cheese in the world
France also produces the smelliest cheese in the world. If you thought Epoisses was bad (and it was once banned from being carried on public transport in France) then Vieux Boulogne will pretty much blow your socks off. Scientists at Cranfield University in the UK tested cheeses with a smell-o-meter and this stinky fromage was the winner.
France produces around a billion tons of cheese every year, 1200 different varieties, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to find one to love.
As the French proverb goes “There is no old bread that cannot find its cheese”…