I can think of worse things to learn about.
In class this afternoon, we prepared by discussing a little bit about what, exactly, a creamery is, as well as some concepts that one has to grasp in order to understand le bon fromage.
Cheese, as everyone knows, is very important to the French. There’s a lot of it, too. Charles de Gaulle once said, “How can you govern a country which has 246 different varieties of cheese?” Though his rhetorical question is less about the cheese and more about the people, it still expresses the complications that arise when there are so many different tastes and ideas about something, such as a single milk-based food.
All that to say, there’s a lot to know. Something new to me today was the idea of terroir, that a region’s air, soil, and sunlight affect the end result. Apparently, people get rapturous about this (especially in the wine community), something I’m sure Thoreau would have approved of.
After class, we took the metro to Bellecour and walked to the tiny Crémerie de Charlie. It was a tight squeeze for fifteen people, standing room only, but it was refreshingly cool and the walls were lined with large cases of fromage after fromage.We were greeted by Carole and Bertrand, who, lest we just stand and drool, poured cups of white wine, cut pieces of baguette, and started passing around a cheese tray. There was an order in which to eat, so they told us which cheese to take, and, while passing around the tray, gave a brief introduction: maybe just the name and whether the milk came from a cow, goat, or sheep.
Everyone took a piece of whatever they told us to; ate it, talked about it, and maybe took some notes if in the gastronomy course. We tried seven or eight different cheeses. Though we didn’t quite make the 246 :P, trying a nice variety like that at one time was really helpful for distinguishing the differences between them.
Personally, I liked each one, even the gooey sheep’s milk cheese that smelled rather like a petting zoo and the hard cheese with a coconut aftertaste. Of course, they weren’t all quite so adventurous. There was a nice mild chèvre and some comté, the crowd favorite.
I was standing by Stephanie when she took a bite and promptly declared, “I want to die in a field of cheese.”
I don’t know what that is…but I’m right there with her.
Until the next,