10/18/2016 – French Cheeses (w/ Juliana Froggatt)


Welcome to Five Course Trivia! Five days a week, we’ll post five questions about something from the culinary world, from soup to nuts and all dishes in between.

This week is Guest Week here at FCT, and I’m inviting friends and supporters of the site to craft some of their own questions! Today, we have Juliana Froggatt, a copy editor living in Ferney-Voltaire, France. Everything after this point was written by her. Enjoy!

While serving as the president of France, Charles de Gaulle once asked, “Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?” (How can you govern a country that has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?) You needn’t name all 246, just these five.

1. It is said that Louis XVI’s last wish was for a bite of this unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese, which was declared “the King of Cheeses” at a tournament organized by Talleyrand during the Congress of Vienna. The only other variety of this type with French AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) status is made in Melun, also in the Seine-et-Marne departement in Île-de-France.


It’s even better with a truffle layer!

2. Before the discovery of penicillin, shepherds would put this sheep’s milk blue cheese on wounds to ward off gangrene. In 1925 it received the very first French AO (appellation d’origine, a precursor of the AOC system), but its regulation dates all the way back to 1411, when a parliamentary decree mandated its aging in the Mont Cambalou caves near its namesake commune in Aveyron. Contrary to Talleyrand, in the Encyclopédie, Diderot named it the “king of cheeses” and the “premier cheese of Europe.”



3. This triple-cream dessert cheese is made in Burgundy and Normandy with cow’s milk and has at least 75 percent fat content. It was invented around 1890 and renamed in the 1930s in homage to the great French gourmet and author of Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste) who said, “A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye” and “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

Add herbs or fruits and marc de Bourgogne for extra hedonism!
Even more decadent with truffles. Its namesake would approve!

4. This Loire Valley AOC goat cheese may be named for a type of small burned-clay oil lamp that looks like the mold used to make it, or for the French word for “animal dung,” since it gets harder and browner as it ages. It is sold jeune (young), bleuté (literally “bluish,” or ripened), and affiné (literally “refined,” or mature). A typical dish of its region is a baked piece of this cheese on a green salad.



5. Although its name comes from the French for “soft,” this is a hard cow’s milk cheese, invented at the request of Louis XIV as a mercantilist replacement for the Dutch Edam. Annatto is responsible for its distinctive taste and orange color, and cheese mites are responsible for the color and texture of its crust—and are the reason that the FDA cracked down on it in 2013. (The FDA has since backed off.)

Version 2

Slightly more than the FDA-preferred six mites per square inch…

Thanks again to Juliana for crafting today’s questions! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Guest Week author, with Southeast Asian cuisine with Alex Jeffrey.


1. Brie de Meaux (the other one is Brie de Melun)
2. Roquefort (the commune is Roquefort-sur-Soulzon)
3. Brillat-Savarin
4. Crottin de Chavignol
5. Mimolette (also called Vieux Hollande or Boule de Lille, for the city where it was first made, in France and Commissiekaas in Belgium and Flanders)

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