Like Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster and finding a decent coffee in the US, I believe I have unearthed the ultimate urban myth – a Frenchman who doesn’t like cheese.
I have a friend, Dom, who must be the only real Frenchman in the history of Frenchiness…who does not like cheese.
For him it’s not the taste, but the smell that he finds off putting. Despite this character flaw, he has am amazing sense of humour and will tolerate the consumption of even the stinkiest cheese in his presence. Which I recently did…at length.
Dom and his wife Laila joined me for one of my weekend jaunts to Oman with some other friends, where much was made of the cheese buffet at Grand Hyatt Oman where I am labelled a repeat offender.
Their buffet this weekend had been expanded and I delved straight in, not caring about my recent crisis of body confidence (this blog being a current contributor to it).
First up was Pyrenees Brebis.
Made in the Basque country and the Bearn region of France’s Pyrenees Mountains, this small-scale pasteurized cheese is produced from floral sheep milk and given a half year to deepen in flavor.
Still in France…and still taunting my friend was Brique D’urfe.
A washed rind cheese that was rich and pungent.
Moving on, we tried some Tomme Du Berger…which have been keen to sample for some time.
A mixture of goats and sheep milk, its ages for less than four months. Apparently one of the milks comes from Provence, the other from Corsica and the cheese is produced in Sardinia. It’s better travelled than Marco Polo.
Then there was the gooey mess of the cheese from Langres…
From the Champagne region, Langres is a cow’s milk cheese, cylindrical in shape, weighing about 180g. The central pâte is soft, creamy in colour, and slightly crumbly. It is best eaten between May and August and ideally at five weeks old. I like it left out for a while and literally dripping…
And now to the blues…Bleu D’Auvergne to be precise.
From South Central France, discovered in the mid-1850s by a French cheesemaker named Antoine Roussel. Roussel noted that the occurrence of blue molds on his curd resulted in an agreeable taste, and conducted experiments to determine how veins of such mold could be induced. After several failed tests, Roussel discovered that the application of rye bread mold created the veining, and that pricking the curd with a needle provided increased aeration. It allowed the mold to enter the curd and encouraged its growth. Subsequently, his discovery and techniques spread throughout the region.
Back to the cheese and enough of this needle business. By this point, my Cheese Hating French Friend was almost faint. Then my cheese afternoon adventure took me to Burgundy, home of the Soumaintrain.
This has one of the best names ever. Soumaintrain is a farmhouse cheese made with cow’s milk in the Burgundy region of France and is fairly young and mild.
It was a great afternoon shared with friends old and new…and thanks to my Fromage Skeptic Friend Dom for enduring the cheese related talk and torture.