Ooh la la ! Only in France can you find cheeses like these

It's easy to lose your head over the luscious array of fromages fermiers still being made the old-fashioned way by Gallic artisans

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The famous fromageries (cheese shops) of France sell their grateful customers something they can procure nowhere else: a full, rich, scarcely believable array of unpasteurized farm cheeses (fromages fermiers). A restaurant in San Francisco or Melbourne or Oslo can locate perfect meat, fish, fruits and vegetables for its table, create luscious pastries and sherbets, and import the finest wines and liqueurs, but it can't even begin to lay on a cheese platter like the French. Typically a top French restaurant will offer at least a dozen, and perhaps as many as 20, cheeses, ranging from the soft, alabaster beauties of unaged goat to the solid Tomme, Beaufort, Saint-Nectaire and Cantal; the ripe, gently flowing Brie, Reblochon, Camembert and Epoisses; the blue-veined, aristocratic Roquefort and Fourme d'Ambert; all the way to Cholesterol City, the Gratte-paille, Explorateur and Brillat-Savarin. The history and production of such cheeses, and their importance to la cuisine française, constitute a gastronomic tour de force.

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