France produces many fine foods, including cheeses. France has 350 to 400 distinct types of cheese but our favourite is Camembert du Normandie followed by Brie du Meaux.
We have found though that the only one with real taste is the Camembert du Normandie which is marked “appellation d’origine protégée.” Others which say “fabrique en Normandie” don’t seem to have the same strong taste. We have two great ways of eating it. Either take it out of the fridge for the day and let it go soft and almost runny and then eat it with crackers or bake it in the oven until it goes almost liquid and then serve it with thin slices of baguette.
It was Bill and Genevieve who introduced us to the baked version in The Arsenal in Paris. One evening at a BBQ organised for the boaters Bill produced three Camemberts and bread. He put the Camembert cheeses still in their boxes on the BBQ. We had to wait until the cheeses baked and when they were ready everyone loved the way they were done and the three cheeses and sliced baguette were devoured in minutes.
While we were in Meaux, Eric, a Swiss man, showed us how to fry the Camembert rind on the pan. It tastes delicious. So none of the Camembert is wasted. Knowing my love of baked Camembert, my sister-in-law Kate, gave me a special dish for baking Camembert as my Christmas present this year.
We were told that Meaux was famous for Brie cheese. We did not really believe it but when we bought some locally made Brie in Meaux, we had to agree it had a special taste of its own. Again it’s better to let it go soft before eating.
The 11 most popular cheeses in France are;
- Camembert (AOC)
- Brie de Meaux (AOC)
- Roquefort (AOC)
- Reblochon (AOC
- Munster (AOC)
- Pont l’Évêque (AOC)
- Époisses (AOC)
- Tomme de Savoie (AOC)
- Livarot (AOC)
Under French Law 56 cheeses are classified, protected, and regulated. The majority are classified as Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), the highest level of protection. Some are also protected under the less stringent but still legally regulated designation Label Régional (LR). A few French cheeses are protected under the European Union’s Protected Geographic Indication designation (PGI). Many familiar generic types, like Boursin, are not covered. (Source of above information Wikipedia)
It’s interesting that we have picked the two most popular as our favourites. Now that we have acquired this expensive taste for cheese I don’t know what we will do when we go home!