Tag: french food and etiquette

The Romance of Roquefort

All you need is Love and Roquefort… or “How mold found its way into the first Roquefort cheese”

In response to our recent article on cheese etiquette, many readers have wondered just how mould from rye bread found its way into the first Roquefort cheese. Let’s just say that the French are great lovers who also love their cheese. As one might suspect, love and roquefort, therein lies a tale of great romance.

Love and Roquefort

By Nancy McGee, Contributor to Barefoot Blogger
Absolutely Southern French Food and Etiquette

Napoleon and Josephine, de Beauvoir and Sartre, Rimbaud and Verlaine, Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette…are just a few of France’s famous lovers, real or legendary. But way back, a largely unknown young couple were responsible for one of the country’s most enduring traditions. Their story is decidedly among the most romantic of all.

Ingredients for a Great French Culinary Tradition
All You Need is Love...

Once upon a time – almost two thousand years ago, as legend has it – a young shepherd took shelter from a raging storm in a cave on Mount Combalou near Roquefort. No sooner had he begun his lunch of ewe’s milk curds on rye bread when a beautiful young shepherdess appeared, rain-soaked, at the mouth of the cave. The chivalrous young man offered to share his lunch, but as they became better and better acquainted, so to speak, lunch was soon forgotten.

Love and Roquefort

When the storm abated, each went their own way – with stomachs empty but with hearts full.

While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night…

...a king was born – that is to say the ‘King of Cheese’ as French philosopher Diderot declared “Roquefort.

A month or so after the young lovers first rendezvous, the shepherd was tending his flock near the same cavern. Fond memories of that romantic interlude surfaced, as did the memory of the abandoned lunch. When he entered the cave, much to his surprise it was still there, but hardly recognisable! Mold blanketed the rye bread and had infiltrated the curds to produced deep blue/green veins.

Love and RoquefortThe shepherd, whose hunger knows no bounds, took a bite of the mouldy cheese.  One can only imagine his reaction – ‘C’est formidable’!

Yes, there’s more. This tale has a happy ending. The shepherdess returned and shared her lover’s passion for the new-born cheese. Together they quickly mastered the art of producing blue-veined cheese in the damp caves of Mount Combalou. An industry was born – along with several heirs who passed on the Roquefort tradition throughout the generations.

Love and Roquefort

As a postscript, the couple probably lived happily for quite a long time ever after. Recent studies have revealed the anti-inflammatory properties of mouldy, blue-veined cheeses – which could explain why French mortality rates from cardiovascular-related diseases are among the lowest.

Long live the King of French Cheeses!

Love and Roquefort

A Few Facts about Roquefort Cheese
Roquefort cheese is made from the perfumed raw milk from the Lacaunes ewe. Lacaunes sheep produce far less milk than cows, making the cheese rare and precious.

Today the mould from rye bread is injected into the sheep’s milk.

Mount Combalou provided a rock-like fortress – hence the name ‘Roc Fort’. In fact it was the only environment capable of creating the blue/green veins; other caves close by did not have the same effect.

Combalou collapsed a million years ago, leaving narrow cracks as long as half a mile beneath the surface. Cool air blows through them into the caves, providing perfect climatic conditions — 48 degrees year round — for cheese maturation.

Roquefort was Charlemagne’s favorite cheese and, according to Casanova, an aphrodisiac.

France produces over half of the world’s cheese and it exports more than any other country, including of course the much sought-after Roquefort. Let’s see what President Charles de Gaulle had to say:

Only peril can bring the French together.
One can’t impose unity out of the blue on a country
that has 265 different kinds of cheese.

Today, France is the home to over 1000 types of cheese. It’s a wonder how a modern President can hold things together?

Love and Roquefort

 

Check out more great information from Nancy about French food and etiquette on Barefoot Blogger’s page,  Absolutely Southern French Food and Etiquette 

Love and Roquefort

Nancy McGee, Absolutely Southern French

 

 

southern france holiday

Uzes: A Food Lover’s Southern France Holiday

You would be forgiven for thinking that Paris is the best place to experience French food. However, surprisingly many would argue against such a claim. While it is at the forefront, and to some extent the gateway to French cuisine for the average traveler, there are many other wonderful food hubs across the country that rival Paris’s thriving restaurant scene.

https://bfblogger.com/2016/11/06/southern-french-food/Though, that doesn’t mean the city isn’t without its fair share of amazing restaurants. Chez Dumonet for one, helmed by Chef Jean-Christian Dumonet, was at one point dubbed by Fodor’s Travel as the best restaurant in Paris. Chez Dumonet is so well known now that this restaurant is on most foodies bucket lists when the visit the capital.

Getting to visit such a place gives travelers a real sense of the roots of French cuisine. In The Scene’s ‘Presents’ series, a video blog was published about ‘Honest French Food’, and Chez Dumonet’s classic French dishes were described as “masterfully assembled” which in turn has attracted lots of patrons from all corners of the world in recent years.

There are, happily, many other wonderful food hubs across the country that rival Pariss thriving restaurant scene…like Uzes, way down in the south of France. 

Uzes is a hidden gem. The NY Times Travel Magazine described the town as one of the “best preserved and most meticulously renovated towns in the South of France.”

southern france holiday

A Food Lover’s Southern France Holiday

In Uzes the people have retained their identity in every aspect of daily living, from the architecture to cultural practices to the way they prepare food and their cooking traditions.You would be forgiven for thinking that Paris is the best place to experience French food. However,

Amazing foods, cafes and restaurants are everywhere. The food markets in Uzes are bustling with vendors that sell only the best and freshest, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses and breads. These markets were included by The Guardian amongst the best food markets around the world.

If you’d rather pass on checking out every stall and just fancy watching people make their way around in the morning, head to Terroirs within the Place aux Herbes. Simply sit down and sip your cup of coffee or tea while watching one of the finest markets within the whole southern region of France spring to life.

La Table 2 Julien at Montaren-et-Saint-Médiers serves sumptuous food at lunchtime that you can pair with a glass of your preferred wine.

Uzes has ‘natural wines’ which, according to Real Food Warrior are made only from sun-ripened grapes and free from any additives.

For special occasions there’s Le Comptoir du 7, one of my favorites.

The newly-renovated Hotel Entraigues is a rising star on the restaurant scene in Uzes with Chef Axel Grousset-Bachelard returning to his hometown, determined to outshine any competition. His “nothing is fixed’ menu” is short and imaginative, featuring market-day fresh, local products that “excite the tastebuds,”according to Chef Axel.

You can also have a bistro meal on the spot in cafes and restaurants scattered around the area. They are worthy additions to your culinary journey.

In case you’re wondering about food etiquette during your Southern France holiday, be sure to see Nancy’s McGee’s post about cutting cheese.

Do you have restaurants in Uzes, or nearby that you would like to add to the list? Let me know by leaving a comment!

%d bloggers like this: