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Cheddar cheese in France


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Oh, but I have.

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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While reading this thread, I began to wonder why the French don’t make cheddar. Why don’t the French, who so often take culinary items and make them their own, do cheddar? Have they made cheddar in the past? I did a quick Google search and found a Wikipedia article (link below) that explains that there is an E.U. DOC of sorts, called a “protected designation of origin”, which provides standards for where, how, and of what, cheddar is made. It says, “To meet this standard the cheese must be made in the traditional manner using local ingredients in four designated counties of south-west England.” It goes on to say that Slow Food, together with Neal’s Yard, has declared that only three cheeses (from Somerset only) can be called true cheddar.

Does anyone have any knowledge as to whether the French ever made or tried to make cheddar? If so, when did they do so, and were they successful? I would think that if they tried, they must not have been successful, because otherwise we’d have French cheddar. If they did not try, then why not? Out of some terroir-driven respect for the fact le véritable Cheddar comes from Somerset only? National pride? Just not interested? I also Googled the term “le véritable cheddar” and found a New York Times article (below) that mentions an essay by Elizabeth David, sarcastically titled “Exigez Le Véritable Cheddar Français”. I’d love to hear more on the history of French cheddar, if there is one.

link to Wikipedia on Cheddar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheddar_cheese

link to NY Times article on Elizabeth David:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html...&pagewanted=all

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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I did a quick Google search and found a Wikipedia article (link below) that explains that there is an E.U.  DOC of sorts, called a “protected designation of origin”, which provides standards for where, how, and of what, cheddar is made.  It says, “To meet this standard the cheese must be made in the traditional manner using local ingredients in four designated counties of south-west England.” 

Note that those restrictions only apply to "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" (and note also the lack of any mention of farmhouses in the rules!!). Plain old Cheddar can be made anywhere - look at the Canadian, Irish etc Cheddar on sale in any British supermarket. :huh:

fromage.com states that "Aujourd'hui de grandes fromageries industrielles se partagent la fabrication du Cheddar dans l'ensemble des pays anglo-saxons" but doesn't explain why it's only so-called 'anglo-saxon' countries which make it (Details du fromage Cheddar).

Caroline

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Very interesting posts about the history of cheddar & why the French don't make it. Maybe its because like so many people they've only ever eaten the mass produced 'stuff' which can be pretty horrible.

Although I don't know any of the real history of cheddar I do remember my first ever visit to Wells Stores in Streatly in the early 80's. A revelation! Mostly French cheeses, but with more real farmhouse cheddar than I knew existed. By the time I moved back to England in the late 80's the cheddar selection had really expanded and the movement to ressurect proper English cheeses was gathering momentum.

I now hear (unverified) that Britain has more varieties of cheese than France???

I only ever met Patrick Rance, the owner of Wells Stores, as a customer in his shop, but from everything I've read or heard he was the most important individual in 'saving' cheddar by giving the farmhouse & artisanial producers an outlet. A real food hero.

His first book "Great British Cheese Book" is a bit out of date now, but still has a lot of very interesting information.

His second book "The French Cheese Book" is wonderful. The forward by Jane Grigson is a treat. We still take it with us when we travel.

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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While reading this thread, I began to wonder why the French don’t make cheddar.

True. I have no clue. It's rather unbelievable, but it seems there is no French cheddar and never has been. I wonder why. Likewise, I wonder how it is that the Scots have never been very successful at cantal cheese and the Dutch pretty poor at reproducing romanée-conti.

Understand me well: I think good cheddar is one of the great cheeses of the world. But why would it seem natural that the French make cheddar? Is cheddar some international standard? Are we supposed to copy everything?

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I think that the question was more directed at why don't a similar high acid cheese seem to exist within the vast world of French cheese production.

I guess you could turn the question around and ask why the UK doesn't seem to have any great soft cheeses (even before various UK goverment bodies stepped in to shut down all cheese production).

I think that it is simply that cheese making is too specific a technique for similar cheeses to independently arise and potential there has no great market for this type of cheese in France historically (what is the most popular UK cheese in France? Cheshire?) to stimulate the reproduction of this cheese type within France.

Most "Cheddar" is bland industrial crap after all.

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potential there has no great market for this type of cheese in France historically

Maybe not cheddar, but what about other 'hard' cheeses such as Cantal, Laguiole, Salers, the various Tommes all of which have been made in France for milliniums. There's defintely a French market for these types of cheese.

Most "Cheddar" is bland industrial crap after all.

True, perhaps, but you can say the same thing about Brie. Either cheese properly made, aged, stored & eaten is a delight.

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None of those cheeses taste like cheddar, nor has a similar texture or cooks the same (try making Aligot with cheddar and see what happens). Being a similar looking semi-hard cheese dsn't make them Cheddar (even if Cantal is sometimes "promoted" as French Cheddar. Also, in a historical context I wonder how restricted the consumption of these cheese types was in France?

Cheddar is one of the great cheeses of the world. The West Country Farmhouse Cheddar PDO, restricts this to a few dozen, and the Slow Food movement recognise three "real" cheddars. There are some versions made in Australia that I like and I quite like some of the similar Dunlop/sweet milk cheeses from Scotland. But most "Cheddar" is crap. Which is OK as the world needs crap too.

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(try making Aligot with cheddar and see what happens).

Wouldn't dream of it; besides my waist line is already too big.

Cheddar is one of the great cheeses of the world.

Agreed.

. But most "Cheddar" is crap. Which is OK as the world needs crap  too.

Agreed again. Peace.

Sorry haven't quite figured out using multiple quotes yet. Think its readable.

Edited by John Talbott (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

I had a little snicker to myself while in the Richelieu cafe at the Louvre in Paris on Saturday. Having ordered the assiette of sandwiches, one of which claimed to be cheddar, I thought of this thread, wondering what exactly I would receive. The "cheddar" turned out to be three "Easi-Singles" squashed together...

Si

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I had a little snicker to myself while in the Richelieu cafe at the Louvre in Paris on Saturday. Having ordered the assiette of sandwiches, one of which claimed to be cheddar, I thought of this thread, wondering what exactly I would receive. The "cheddar" turned out to be three "Easi-Singles" squashed together...

Si

They sound like what we colonials would call Velveeta.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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