French People and Their Obsession With Cheese

French People and Their Obsession With Cheese 

There are more than a 1000 sorts of cheese in France alone and it represents centuries of pure French traditions! No wonder the French use the expression "en faire tout un fromage" (to make a cheese out of it)  to refer to someone who blows things out of proportion! In this post, we are presenting  you with 5 of our favorite French cheeses. Learn how they came to existence and how you can cut and eat them. Enjoy this post and remember to "let them eat cheese!" 

 

1. Le Fromage de Roquefort 

Credit: Cyn Furey 

Credit: Cyn Furey 

Ah, le Roquefort! Easily recognizable by its blue-greenish dots in a white body, this cheese is part of the blue cheese family. Roquefort is a town located in the Landes, in the SouthWest of France. It dates back to the 12th Century when people already used the Caves of Roquefort to salt and affine their cheeses. The legend says that a shepherd left his cheese sandwich in a cave in Roquefort to court a young and beautiful woman. After chasing her with no results, he came back and found his sandwich with blue dots in it. Roquefort was born. Wether you believe in the legend or not, Roquefort cheese is now an AOC & AOP cheese, meaning that if the cheese is not made in the caves of Roquefort, then you cannot call it Roquefort. It is the champagne of the cheeses! 

How to eat it? 

You can eat Roquefort cold in a gaspacho or on a tartine with a touch of butter. Or, you can eat it warm as a mushroom stuffing. 

How to cut it ? 

Roquefort is part of the blue cheeses and need to be cut in quarters. 


 

2. Le comté

Comté cheese dates back to the 13th Century. It is derived from the Gruyère cheese that was introduced at the end of the 13th Century. Comté is a cheese made from cow milk and is from the region of Franche-Comté. During the Middle-Ages, winters were long and hard. People had to think collectively how to get through the rough winters. It forced farmers to work together to better use the provisions that they could get over the summer. Indeed, cows were producing a lot of milk over the summer and then less during the winter. People would therefore make huge wheels of cheese that would require over a 130 gallons of milk (500L) to produce. Farmers had to work collectively to bring together those huge amounts of milk so they organized as "cooperatives". Comté is a symbole of farmers working together so they could survive the winter. 

How to eat it? 

Comté can be enjoyed cold with a piece of bread or warm in any dish you like. It is preferred with chicken and beef or even with cod fish. 

How to cut it? 

Because Comté comes out of a huge wheel, the slices of comté you will get will be long. You must cut the heart of the wheel in long slices and then you have to cut the rest from the center to the crust. 


3. Le mont D'or 

Photo Credit: Arnaud 25

Photo Credit: Arnaud 25

Mont D'or is probable everything you can imagine about cheese. Warm, melty, lovely cheese that you add to a meal to make it as decadent as possible! The most ancient form of this cheese dates back to 1280. Unlike Comté, it does not require a lot of milk to make because it is mostly made during the winter. Mont D'or only needs less than 2 gallons of milk to be produced. This is why it is a soft, rich and seasonal cheese from Franche-Comté as well! Because of its consistency, the cheese is encircled with a "belt" made out of a specific wood, usually spruce.  

How to eat it? 

Mont D'or can be easily spread on bread or you can take it up a notch and the cheese becomes your own portable fondue! Just warm up the cheese case (made our of spruce, of course) and then remove the top crust and dip! It becomes a "boîte chaude"

How to cut it? 

Because of its consistency, it is hard to "cut" this cheese. It is recommended to remove the top crust and serve it with a spoon. 


4. Camembert 

Photo Credit: NJGJ

Photo Credit: NJGJ

Camembert is probably the most popular cheese in modern France. It was created in the 18th Century  in the Town of Camembert in the NorthEast of France. According to Pierre Androuët,this mix between curd cheese and brie became popular after Parisian tourists brought it back to Paris for people to enjoy in the 18th Century. Camembert was so good that it became part of the food rations for soldiers during the First World War, helping growing its popularity. Not only is the cheese popular but the box in which it is kept also is! People who collect Camembert's boxes are called Tyrosémiophiles. Along with la baguette, Camembert is a symbole of France. 

How to eat it? 

Simply on a baguette et voilà! 

How to cut it? 

Just like a cake, in equal parts from the center to the ridge. 


5. Beaufort 

Photo Credit: Coyau

Photo Credit: Coyau

Le Beaufort is a very old cheese that is produced in the region of Savoie, in Beaufort to be exact. History shows that this cheese was made before the Middle-Ages and continue to be produced today. It is only in 1965 that the cheese produced in the Beaufort region is called Beaufort. This cheese is firm, yellow, and concave. It is an essential ingredient for a Fondue Savoyarde! Cheese fondue is something that everyone loves! Picture a winter night, cold weather outside and a warm pot of cheese in which you dip pieces of bread for you to enjoy... MiamMiam !

How to eat it?

In slices with crackers or in a warm fondue pot mixed with other cheeses such as Gruyère de Savoie, Emmental de Savoie, white wine and pepper! 

How to cut it? 

Cut it in very thing quarters. 


We hope you enjoyed this delicious array of cheeses in French People and Their Obsession With Cheese! We hope you spend a wonderful (French-inspired) fall with your guests.  If you are looking to learn more French language and culture, don't forget to check out our French Private LessonsFrench Group Classes, and our cultural events at JP Linguistics. Bonne Journée!