One of the top reasons for visiting France, aside from its wonderful sights, is the renowned French wine and cheese. So today let’s look at that French love of cheese and how we came to have quite so much of it!
For those who have been to France, I am sure you can remember in supermarkets, outdoor markets or delis the sheer range of cheese as astounding. The cheese in all sorts of shapes, sizes and of course smells, is certainly an assault of the senses.
History of the French Cheese
How cheese became just such of a passion in France is unknown but it does seem that one of the key developers were the French monasteries, who began to perfect the traditional art of cheesemaking. Each region over the years developed its own special and unique variety of cheese. These variations could include what milk was used, whether cow, sheep or goat, or how long it was cured for. The climate, environment and common flora and fauna of a region all had an influence on the cheese created.
France with its wide variety of climates therefore ended up with a wide variety of cheeses. Camembert and Brie are from the north while, Emmental is made in the French Alps; Roquefort comes from the south and most goat cheeses are made in in the west.
Unbelievably, there are up to 400 different types of French cheese – and this is not talking about the hundreds of further varieties that are also available.
www.gourmetcheesedetective.com/French-regions gives a lovely list of what speciality cheeses you can buy in each region of your French travels!
A cheese plate can be the perfect end to a meal, a small meal, or even a course after the main meal and before desert, but whenever you choose to eat it, this is the French way of doing so:
The platter should be served with a variety of cheeses, both mild and strong. The platter is passed around and small chunks of your desired cheeses are placed on your plate, the bread though, actually stays in the centre of the table, and small bite size chunks are broken off.
The common compliment to a cheese board, as well as the customary wine, is fresh fruit. Common examples are figs to complement a goat cheese or apricots to go with a Camembert.
So enjoy the local cheese and don’t forget to buy local! Délicieux!