A fresh baked baguette, a chilled glass of wine, an elegant beret and a delicate slice of cheese: here you fill the perfect French stereotype. Cheese is truly a part of the French identity and you can’t leave Paris without trying a few different varieties! The French tradition of « le fromage » is extremely famous around the world but if you want to be a cheese expert during your stay in Paris, don’t miss our top 5 fun facts about French cheese!
1.] Say « cheeeese »
To characterize the over-categorizing mind of the French, French President Charles de Gaulle was famously quoted as saying “Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?” (“How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”). And indeed, a lifetime is not enough to taste them all! There may be more than 300 kinds of cheese made in France, divided between the soft and hard cheeses, depending on the consistency of the dough. One for every day of the year!
2.] Cheese is a serious matter
French cheese is protected in France by the Appellation d’Origine Protégé (AOP), along with Champagne. What is AOP? It is a certification that the cheese you spread on your baguette has been made in a specific region using agreed production methods. A really high quality cheese will wear the AOP certificate, and promote its traditional way of production.
3.] The older, the better
Cheese do not have expiration dates! In fact, the older a cheese is, the better it will taste. A very strong scent is a good sign of a tasty cheese. Hold your breath and enjoy! The Blue Cheese was actually invented by a young French peasant forgetting his cheese in a cave and finding it months later. Today, the Bleu is first inoculated with varieties of penicilium, before being left to age for at least three to five months.
4.] Cheese and its homeland
A fun fact about French cheese is that each cheese is typical of a region of France, and is the proud and joy of its inhabitants. It is linked to the idea of « terroir », the shaping of one’s regional identity, along with the wine and customs. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the most famous cheese and their birth regions:
– The Beaufort from Savoy
– The Cantal from Auvergne
– The Camembert from Normandie
– The Chabichou from Poitou
– The Comté from France-Comté
– The Maroilles from Nord-Pas-De-Calais
– The Roquefort from Midi-Pyrénées
5.] « Fromage ou dessert? »
Cheese is actually so popular in France that it is part of the meal, in between the main course and the dessert. Along with salad or grape, it should be served at room temperature with a glass of wine or brandy. The « plateau de fromage », the cheese board, should propose at least three variety with among them a cooked cheese, a veined cheese and a soft cheese with a rind.