Tuesday, April 12, 2005


One of the quotes I heard a lot when I arrived France was....
"How can you be expected to govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese?"
by Charles de Gaulle.

There are so many wonderful cheeses in France. When I first moved here I bought the French Cheese book and checked off every new cheese I tried. I gave up the day I brought home a Tomme cheese and went to check it off the list. I found that the book listed something like 38 variations of this one cheese alone! By now, I have my favorite cheeses (comte, cantal, chevre crottin and port salut) and try to have something new every once in a while.

Like wine, French cheese is protected by AOC laws (appellation d'origine controllee). This law allows only certain limited quantities of a particular cheese to be produced in order to prevent mass production ruining the subtle variations in regional French cheeses.

While my family was in town, I wanted a French friend of mine to meet them. A few weeks ago, we decided she would come over for a little cheese and wine. I thought this was a great idea until I started thinking about the details.... where to buy the cheese, which wine to buy and what type of bread to serve. I know they may sound like trivial concerns, and of course, they are, but I wanted to make sure I didn't make a fool of myself. I've never had this friend over for a "meal" before.

We decided on the wine first. Because my sister loves Roquefort, I asked for a wine that goes well with that kind of cheese. We went to Nicholas, the chain wine store, and the wine guy recommended a Sancerre. We also bought a Bordeaux.

Then we walked to Androuet. My French friends have recommended that I buy my cheese at Androuet. There are three stores in Paris and one is not too far from my home. My sister, the cheese addict, picked out the cheeses. She made some lovely choices and had way too much fun. The cheese man let us have samples to determine which ones we wanted to buy. She bought some Carles Roquefort, Comte, Gouda (aged three years and impossible to cut), Poivre Brie, Ste. Maure Chevre, Rocamadour, Trappe d'Echourgnac, and Neufchatel Coeur. It was a delicious selection.

I think my sister bought a piece of every cheese in this picture.

Finally, we bought some baguettes and some Poilane bread to eat with the cheese.

My friend came over and we had a very nice time trying the cheese and wine. After she left we had some more cheese and decided that was enough of a meal.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:39 PM



I'd kill for some blue des causses, but I'm stuck here in the United States of Pasteurization until July.

(Please forgive me if I spelled it wrong. It's a member of the roquefort family, I believe. Highly recommended.)

# posted by Amy Alkon : 11:46 PM  

Hi. I'm Anna and live in South Carolina. I'll be in Paris in June to visit with some family for a month. Do you have any reccomendations of what a teenager might need to see/do in Paris? Thanks!

# posted by Anonymous : 2:13 AM  

Gosh, alot of the time when I can read your blog it's right before dinner. I just got esp. hungry reading this entry about cheeses (not to mention others....) And I bet there are many more you'd like to try.
2 yrs ago our host bought us some cheese on rue Cler in the am, we carried it around all day with us w/o refrigerating it. My husband pulls it out in the pm to the family hosting our son and I give him a look like "do you want to poison them?" but my husband asked the mother/host and she said it should be fine. And it was! (My cheese story) Terry in SF

# posted by Anonymous : 2:57 AM  

Amy, I love Blue cheese too. I'm always glad when my sister visits because there is always some in the apartment. The thing about these French cheeses... you don't want them in the refrig too long because the start to smell (some right away). Right now, when I open the fridge, it smells really really bad.
Anna, There are so many things to see in Paris. If this is your first time here, I'd look up the most popular spots, which would include the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe. I'd also visit the museums... the Louvre and Orsay among others.
Terry, When I visit my sister in the south of France in the hot, hot summer, her French husband always leaves the cheese out for days on end. Nothing ever seems to happen to him, but my American sensibilites are shocked by it! Of course, I'm also shocked by the fact that the French grocery stores don't refrigerate eggs... but I've never been sick eating those eggs.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 7:44 AM  

hi there - um, i guess they don't have vt. white cheddar? no seriously do they?

you lucky blogger, 250 + cheeses
hope they have 250 + wines for that

you could have a different each practically every day of the year!
now that is heaven! -patty

# posted by Anonymous : 4:27 PM  

Hi Auntie !

Ummmm ... no, one doesn't really _refrigerate_ cheeses here (smile). I agree 100% with your sister's husband. If one must, one can maintain them at a lower temperature in a _cool_ area of the kitchen or even on a windowsill if on the north side. Refrigeration _kills the taste_. Nor does one really refrigerate eggs, except in a pinch ... although for a number of years now refrigerators sold here have had an egg tray in the door. Bof, as the French say.


# posted by L'Amerloque : 4:39 PM  

just when I think your posts can't get any more gorgeous or evoke deeper longing-- you raise the bar!

This was sublime-----my nose is pressed to the screen trying to breathe in the scent of those lovely cheeses . . bluepoppy

# posted by Anonymous : 7:24 PM  

I read this blog, with cheese envy :-). I live in the middle of Kansas, my last trip to Switzerland and France being in '94. I have good cheeses available.but nothing in comparison to you!! MMMMMmmmmm..........my tummy rumbled as I looked at the pictures, and imagined the joy of sampling the delicacies. Enjoy your blog, thanks for writitng.

# posted by Sue : 3:07 AM  

//I know they may sound like trivial concerns, and of course, they are,//

"Food" & "trivial concern" - two mutually exclusive concepts in France ;-) Sounds like you had a great time, though.

I wasn't going to have cheese with my lunch today, but after reading this I now feel almost obliged to have a piece...

# posted by Iain : 12:54 PM  

While looking at your pictures I was having a Pavlovian moment. Seriously, I hope saliva doesn't ruin keybords....

# posted by BohemianMama : 7:52 PM  

Cheese! That's actually why we moved back to Paris, for the opportunity to eat more French cheese.

The rest of this comment is for Anna, who wanted ideas for teenagers in Paris. Come on over to my blog next week--I will ask my teenage son to weigh in on this, and if he won't I'll interview my kids and write down their suggestions.

# posted by Lisa : 10:00 AM  

I never liked strong cheeses (bleu cheese, roquefort, camembert, etc) until I moved to France and was sort of forced to eat them due to lack of options. But now I love them!!! And being back in the US has made me very very snobby about cheese, especially French ones, and thinned my wallet as I end up buying the $10 for a small chunk kind. Anyway, I miss the cheese there.

# posted by Amaranta : 11:33 PM  

A long time ago - and even not so long - when French kitchens did not come equipped with refrigerators & other modern niceties, cheeses were kept in the coolest part of the house or apartment. L'Amerloque says it well, "If one must, one can maintain them at a lower temperature in a cool area of the kitchen or even on a windowsill if on the north side." Another place perishables were kept was in the cellar. As for the reason eggs were or are not refrigerated, it is because the French like to buy them recently laid "garantis coque" so they can be eaten "à la coque" (= soft boiled & in the shell). French eggs do not like to wait for weeks in a refrigerator; they are very particular... just like the 250+ cheeses!

To Anonymous who wrote: "you lucky blogger, 250 + cheeses
hope they have 250 + wines for that". You better believe that the French have 250 + wines to go with their cheeses & everything else!

# posted by Frania W. : 9:14 AM  


# posted by home equity line of credit : 12:37 PM  

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