Cheese is a serious matter in France: it is estimated that people consume more than 20 kg per head per year and that more than 1000 different types are produced throughout the country. Of these, 45 benefit from the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) and 38 from the AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée). In this article we have selected for you what we believe are the 10 French cheeses to taste at least once in a lifetime.
Comté is, most probably, the best known and loved French AOP cheese. Every year about one and a half million cheeses are produced and each of them weighs about 20 kg each.
The cheese has a sweet and fat taste despite being aged for at least 4 months.
The paste is characterised by the fact that it changes colour and consistency according to the seasons: it is a semi-hard, ivory-coloured paste during the winter, while it turns into a cheese with a butter-like consistency and straw colour as the summer progresses.
The best way to taste it? Using it for fondue.
Almost as famous as the Comté, Camembert is considered the symbol of the Normandy region.
This cheese is characterised by a very strong smell, a soft and creamy paste and a white flowery rind.
It seems that the way this cheese was made dates back as far as the French Revolution. It is said that it was a farmer on the run from the Brie region who taught a farmer in the village of Camembert how to prepare it.
Brie is produced in the French region of the same name, which is about fifty kilometres from Paris and has had the AOC label since 1980.
This raw milk cheese, characterised by a soft, soft paste and a white, flowery rind, is one of the most exported French cheeses in the world.
It may resemble Camembert, but unlike Camembert, it takes 8 weeks to make instead of 4 weeks.
During a stay in the French capital, due to its proximity to the Brie region, one of the dishes to try in Paris we recommend this cheese, king of cutting boards for aperitifs, but also perfect for the preparation of sandwiches with grilled vegetables.
The name of this cheese comes from the homonymous district in the Alvenia-Rodano-Alps region, the only place where it can be produced.
Cantal has a long tradition behind it and has been consumed by the French since the Middle Ages.
This is an uncooked pressed cheese which is called mie (crumb) because of its crumbly texture.
The best way to taste it is in purity.
With its circular and wrinkled shape and its soft, creamy and oily texture, Reblochon is a cheese produced at high altitudes during the summer months spent in the mountain pastures. The territory is that of Haute Savoie.
It is usually served with pain de champagne, a naturally leavened bread, but it is also excellent when melted or baked in the oven.
Beaufort is a hard fat cheese with a medium to long maturation period. This takes place in damp cellars which characterize the strong taste that the cheese acquires with ageing.
This cheese is part of the Gruyère family and is considered the king because of its size: one cheese weighs about 50 kg. Unlike most Swiss cheese, it has no holes in the inside and is not a washed rind cheese.
For centuries fresh goat’s milk cheeses were considered less noble and of daily use, but today they are unmissable on the tables of the French and on tasting boards.
The chèvre lends itself to numerous preparations: from salads to canapés.
Legend has it that this creamy cheese was born from the struggle of two giants: Cancoillotte and Yotus. During the fight, Yotus dropped a jar of curdled milk into the pot on the chimney and Cancoillotte, the winner of the fight, gave the cheese its name.
Cancoillotte is produced in Eastern France and especially in the Franche-Comté area.
It is made from a block of milk curd: this is heated and melted slowly by adding water or milk and butter.
It can be eaten both cold and hot and is excellent spread on bread.
Roquefort is one of the most famous French cheeses. Characterised by green-blue streaks, this herbed goat’s milk cheese ages for at least 90 days in caves on the slopes of the Combalou mountain.
The history of Roquefort dates back to the 11th century and is a historical symbol of the Causses region and the Aveyron valleys.
10. Bleu d’Auvergne
Finally, the last of the French cheeses we recommend you try is Bleu d’Auvergne, similar to Roquefort but made with cow’s milk.
The cheese was born in 1850 thanks to an experiment by a young farmer who tried to contaminate the milk with some blue mould found on rye bread.
So, did we make you want to taste the excellent French cheeses?
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