French Cheese: Nine Things I Learned.
While sitting in my room in a French bed and breakfast in the Jura region of France, I compiled a list of what I learned about France and cheese. It is longer than the following nine items, but I won't share them all. I don't want you to think that I actually spent one of my nights in one of tastiest countries in the world writing a cheese list. I spent part of the day too. That is, when I wasn't hanging out in the restaurant, drinking espresso and wondering if most regional B & Bs played American soft rock on the stereo.
Here are Eight Things I Learned About French Cheese (and one about butter)
1. Fondue is delicious. It can also be painful. If you have slight problems digesting vast amounts of cow's milk cheese but are so excited to be eating fondue in The Fondue Region of France that you ignore your digestive system, retribution may be fierce.
2. Some people of the Savoie say fondue has to contain Beaufort to be real fondue. Others in the Jura say unless it is all Comté, it's "just" melted cheese. Texans seem to make their own fondue out of melted pimento cheese. I opt for A or B, but I'll taste a good pimento cheese if someone delivers.
3. Unlike it is suggested among many cheese sophisticates, most French people do not eat the rinds of hard cheeses. They cut them off. If you eat them in front of French children, they will look at you funny. But they'll secretly like it.
4. French children love Comté and my American friend who is thirty thinks it smells like feet. It's all about warming the palate at a young age.
5. When one is a guest of a wine importer visiting his winemakers, they will be served a lot of beautiful cheese by sweet French families. I have counted and determined it's required to serve at least one to five cheeses per person who visits. Preserve the presentation of the cheese. Cut wedges out of the wheels and neat slices from the blocks. You don't have to finish it all.
6. The French do not find it odd that you've come to their land to learn about cheese. Why wouldn't you? In fact, you should probably put down that other book you're writing and focus one entirely on French cheese. It just makes more sense.
7. Unless in Paris, you will be served the cheese of the region you are in. It goes well with the wines you buy at the nearby store. It's fresher. And it just flippin rocks there.
8. People in cheese and wine equally appreciate the other. It is understood that both manifest the terrior of the region from which they come and neither one is considered less important or more "snobby." They hold hands and respect each other's contributions to one other.
9. Butter is not generally served with bread in France. Except in Normandy and near the Italian border. You should visit Normandy and the French-Italian border. Raw-milk butter sprinkled with fleur de sel? Yes.
10. I need to visit again.