Camembert (fr. Camembert, AOC) — Soft French cow’s milk cheese, originally from the Orne department in Lower Normandy.
The name of this spicy cheese with edible white moldy crust was given by the small Norman village of Camembert (Camembert), nestled on a hill in the fertile valley near the town of Falez.
According to legend, this cheese was created in 1791 by Marie Fontaine Arel (Marie Fontaine Harel; 1761–1812), the wife of a French farmer from the village of Vimuthier, located in the same department of Orne. She learned the secret of making cheese from the abbot Charles-Jean Bonvust, whom Marie sheltered on her farm in 1790.
The abbot was from a Brie village located near Paris (famous for its own cheese) and fled to Normandy from the horrors of the French Revolution.
A year later, under the leadership of a monk, Marie made the first head of cheese — since 1791 is considered the year of birth of Camembert.
The name of the cheese has never been registered, and the court in 1926 as a special condition stipulates that Camembert cannot have a controlled denomination of origin.
That is why Camembert today began to be produced on a massive scale throughout France and beyond.
On July 31, 1909, the local cheese makers formed the Syndicate of Producers of the Real Norman Camembert, which proclaimed the exclusive copyrights of the Norman peasants to this cheese.
In 1980, the syndicate filed an application for awarding the highest category AOC to the Camembert and on August 31, 1983, the trademark Camembert de normandie it was finally approved as a controlled denomination of origin for 5 communes in Normandy (it is curious that the hamlet of Camembert is not included in this zone, and cheese has not actually been made here for a long time).
On the packaging of this Norman Camembert must, firstly, be inscribed «Camembert de Normandie, AOC» (Norman Camembert), and secondly, “Fabrication traditionnelle au lait cru avec moulage à la louche” (traditional production of raw milk with manual molding of the heads).
Cheeses that do not have their own AOC are denoted by the words «Fabriquc en Normandie» (made in Normandy) with the obligatory indication of the place of manufacture.
The traditional technology of making cheese, which takes at least three weeks, is strictly observed to this day.
Camembert, aged 21-22 days, is considered young, it finally ripens on the 30-35th day.
Its soft salty mass of yellowish color, slightly hardened in the center, has a unique taste and unique aroma.
Over-grown cheese hardens even more, it can slightly bitter and have an unpleasant smell. The cheese should be wrapped in transparent parchment paper, through which a slightly swollen crust covered with a white mold cannon appears with orangish splashes.
Its smell should be thin, but saturated, and the flesh must be supple, beautiful light yellow color.
Camembert heads with a diameter of 10.5–11 cm and a weight of 250 g put into round plywood boxes, allowing it to be transported over long distances — a significant invention that marked the second birth of cheese and played a considerable role in the international success of Camembert.
Camembert is good in itself, like ordinary table cheese, which is customary to eat just like that or serve before the dessert at the end of dinner — on a cheeseboard.
But the chefs never get over this cheese with their attention.
For example, he is very good baked in dough and even served for dessert with wild berry seasoning.
The taste of Camembert is strong enough, it can change beyond recognition the natural nature of great wines, and therefore it is better to serve young red types to it. Beaujolais in the company of a piece of French grayish rustic bread and fruit — pears, grapes and apples.
However, the Normans themselves, who do not have their own vineyards and wines, prefer to drink it with their Calvados or cider.